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The Commercial Corridor Challenge is a partnership of LISC NYC, Citi, and the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) to strengthen and revitalize the streets, small businesses, and community-based organizations that anchor New York City neighborhoods through strategic interventions. The first round of the program (Corridor Challenge 1.0), launched in 2016, was conducted in collaboration with SBS’s Neighborhood 360° Program.
The partnership grew out of LISC NYC’s work with SBS to create a Commercial District Needs Assessment (CDNA) for community-based organizations to gain baseline data and information about their neighborhood commercial corridors. The CDNA built upon LISC’s national MetroEdge economic development tool developed by Larisa Ortiz Associates. To date, community organizations have used this tool in 24 corridors in all five boroughs of New York City to develop actionable development and revitalization plans. The Neighborhood 360° program was created by SBS to identify, develop, and launch commercial revitalization projects in partnership with local stakeholders.
Through the Corridor Challenge 1.0, LISC NYC provided a subset of Neighborhood 360° grantees with financial resources, expertise, and support to carry out catalytic projects that advance their commercial revitalization efforts and build their economic development capacity. Projects that were eligible for funding included business retention and attraction activities and physical improvements to storefronts and streetscapes in commercial corridors in underinvested neighborhoods. Neighborhood 360° grant finalists who included requests to SBS for funding in the above areas were invited to apply to LISC for additional support for early action commercial revitalization projects. The three community partners who were selected for funding were Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation serving Fulton Street in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn; Staten Island Chamber of Commerce serving Bay Street in Stapleton, Staten Island; and Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDco) serving Southern Boulevard in Crotona Park East, the Bronx.
Each community partner worked closely with LISC NYC and corridor revitalization expert Larisa Ortiz to identify interventions that would be most impactful for their corridor. Funded projects included storefront improvements, such as new signage, lighting, and awnings, as well as public realm improvements, such as wayfinding, vendor pop-up markets, and other interventions that were designed to enhance the corridors, boost foot traffic, increase sales, and contribute to a greater sense of safety.
LISC worked closely with Dadras Architects and Larisa Ortiz to develop the Corridor Challenge Storefront Improvement Design Guidelines to support community partners and participating businesses to implement high-quality, code-compliant, and lasting improvements through the Corridor Challenge.