Announcing Connected Corridors: Envisioning the Future of Our Main Streets

Three Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx will launch new projects to transform public spaces in under-invested commercial corridors.

CONTACT: Hadley Stack,, Crys Letona,


(New York City – May 6th, 2024) — BIDs in Brownsville, Brooklyn; Sunnyside, Queens; and the Bronx Capitol District will receive funding and technical assistance to envision the future of their public spaces through the Local Center, a partnership between Urban Design Forum and the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development (“ANHD”). The Local Center’s Connected Corridors: Envisioning the Future of Our Main Streets program will support Pitkin Avenue BID in Brooklyn, Sunnyside Shines BID in Queens, and 161st Street BID in the Bronx.

BIDs provide essential public services in commercial corridors. They work closely with merchants, residents and community partners to ensure that neighborhood streets, sidewalks, plazas and green spaces meet community needs. In low-income communities of color, many BIDs are working to improve neighborhood spaces, but lack resources and investments to bring their community’s visions to life.

The Local Center aims to address that gap by supporting BIDs to reimagine their public spaces through installations, activations and capital improvements that reclaim public space, drive foot traffic and strengthen neighborhood connectivity and safety. 

With lead support from National Grid’s Project C and the NYC Department of Small Business Services and additional major support from Charles H. Revson Foundation, Deutsche Bank, and the NYC Green Relief & Recovery Fund, administered by City Parks Foundation, Urban Design Forum and ANHD will equip BID partners with seed funding, a team of multi-disciplinary technical assistance partners, and hands-on support to realize their visions. 

BIDs will develop district-wide public realm vision plans that reflect the identities and priorities of local businesses, artists, and residents. They will activate their plazas, parks and streets with demonstration projects and new lighting installations that illustrate the power of community-led public space improvements. 

161st Street Business Improvement District, serving the Capitol District in the Bronx, will work with MUD Workshop, Habitat Workshop, and Sighte Studio to envision and activate public spaces along 161st Street, including Lou Gehrig Plaza. 161st Street BID hopes to make the plaza a lively gathering point for residents and visitors and to transform the area into something that has never been imagined before in their district.

Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District, serving Sunnyside, Queens, will work with di Domenico + Partners and the Queens Lighting Collective to envision and activate the district’s public spaces, including Lowery Plaza, Bliss Plaza, 46th Street Open Street, Sabba Triangle, and Noonan Playground. Through this project, Sunnyside Shines aims to make their public spaces more welcoming, engaging, and better suited to events and short-term markets to ultimately build a stronger, more connected community for residents and merchants.   

Pitkin Avenue Business Improvement District, serving Brownsville, Brooklyn, will work with Studio Cooke John to envision and activate public spaces along Pitkin Avenue, including Zion Triangle plaza. Their goal is to establish an identity for Zion Triangle and transform the district’s public spaces into a destination for neighbors. 

The Connected Corridors program is a unique partnership between Urban Design Forum, ANHD, and city government agencies, including the NYC Department of Small Business Services, NYC Department of Transportation, Office of the Chief Public Realm Officer, and Office of the Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development, and Workforce. By directing more investment into comprehensive vision planning and lively public spaces in under-invested commercial corridors, this initiative will further the New York Governor and New York City Mayor’s “New” New York Action Plan to reinvigorate New York City’s business districts and amplify cultural and economic vibrancy in public spaces across the boroughs. 


“We are thrilled to pair together these three neighborhood leaders with outstanding design teams to help them bring their visions to life,” said Daniel McPhee, Executive Director of the Urban Design Forum. “Every New Yorker deserves to live in a healthy neighborhood with lively, joyful, and welcoming public spaces. We hope these projects will inspire community organizations in every corner of the city to come up with new ideas to improve public space in their neighborhoods and encourage more designers, engineers and lawyers to help us build a more just city.”

“ANHD recognizes the public realm as an essential part of thriving, equitable neighborhoods that not only provide housing and local economic opportunities but also feel vibrant, welcoming, and connected for residents and all New Yorkers,” said Barika Williams, Executive Director of the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development. “We are excited to provide capacity-building support to under-resourced BID partners in low-income communities of color to begin the process of transforming our commercial corridors into community-designed and widely enjoyed public realm assets.”

“Our diverse, vibrant neighborhoods are the foundation of NYC’s small business cityscape,” said NYC SBS Commissioner Kevin D. Kim. “Investments in our neighborhoods not only make them more livable and prosperous, but also more attractive places to shop and work. I want to thank National Grid’s Project C, Charles H. Revson Foundation, Deutsche Bank, and the NYC Green Relief & Recovery Fund for partnering with SBS to make these projects with UDF, ANHD, and our BIDs possible.”

“At National Grid, we believe in empowering communities to shape their own futures,” said Eileen Cifone, Director of External Affairs at National Grid. ”This is a central tenet of what we aim to achieve through Project C. Partnerships with BIDs and community partners across our service area are vital to the success of this mission. We are proud to support The Local Center in their continued efforts to aggregate resources and investments on behalf of low-income communities within Brooklyn. By harnessing the collective vision of residents, merchants, and community partners, we can create vibrant, safe, and inclusive environments that reflect the unique identities and aspirations of these neighborhoods.”

“As we work to revitalize commercial corridors across New York City, the Local Center’s Connected Corridors program demonstrates how public-private partnerships can help build local capacity,” said “New” New York Executive Director B.J. Jones. “By investing in comprehensive vision planning and vibrant public spaces, the Adam’s Administration and our partners continue to enhance the cultural and economic vibrancy of our city’s neighborhoods.”

“Walkable and safe streets not only foster enriching experiences for pedestrians, but they also help local businesses thrive and improve the quality of life for residents and visitors alike,” said NYC DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “This important funding will help plazas, Open Streets, and more thrive with public art, events, and infrastructure upgrades like enhanced lighting and we look forward to seeing these upgrades across Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens and thank the BIDs and Local Center for their support.”

“Business Improvement Districts are critical to the success of our public spaces in all five boroughs, and through the Local Center program, three BIDs will receive the support they need to activate the public realm in their districts” said Chief Public Realm Officer Ya-Ting Liu. “This is a truly innovative partnership, and I’m grateful to the Urban Design Forum for this focus on commercial corridors in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens- areas where New Yorkers work, live, and play.”

“Third places in Brooklyn are the heart and soul of the community, embodying the true spirit of resilience and solidarity. They serve as a powerful reminder that physical spaces alone are not enough to bring people together; the vibrant culture and unwavering spirit of the residents make these places special. The Pitkin Avenue BID’s efforts to make Zion Triangle a welcoming third place for the residents, shoppers, and visitors of Brownsville is a testament to the power of community partnerships and the importance of creating culturally relevant spaces that truly reflect and celebrate the unique identities of the people who call these neighborhoods home. The Pitkin Avenue BID is grateful to the Urban Design Forum, SBS, and ANHD for their support in developing Zion Triangle,” said Tiera Mack, Executive Director of the Pitkin Avenue BID.

“We are excited to be partnering with the Urban Design Forum, ANHD, di Domenico + Partners and the Queens Lighting Collective. Our public spaces have great potential, and this grant will allow us to explore ways to better activate them, and engage all of Sunnyside through the process. We hope to see greater vibrancy in the two public plazas and are looking to identify ways to draw more people to the spaces, and to find ways to better activate them as economic and cultural engines for our community. We want people to feel ownership of the spaces, and to remember them from great experiences, with fond memories,” said Dirk McCall, Executive Director of Sunnyside Shines

“The 161st Street BID is grateful to be working with MUD Workshop, Habitat Workshop, and Sighte Studio in the revitalization of our public space, Lou Gehrig Plaza. Over the past two years, our BID has helped our small businesses in the district, increased our marketing and events for visitors and everyday New Yorkers and started the task of beautification to spruce up our business district. Lou Gehrig Plaza has been a useful asset for our BID and community organizations as a public space for events. From event activations, art and lighting installations and pop-up markets, this grant opportunity will allow our BID and our friends on the design teams, to really show the world how this public space can transform a community in a variety of ways this year and beyond,” said Trey Jenkins, Executive Director of the 161st Street BID.

 About Us

Urban Design Forum connects and inspires New Yorkers to design, build and care for a better city. We are a member-powered organization of 1,000+ civic leaders committed to a more just future for our city. We believe the built environment—our neighborhoods, buildings, public spaces and infrastructure—shapes our city’s health, culture and economy. We bring together New Yorkers of diverse backgrounds and experiences to learn, debate, and design a vibrant city for all. Learn more at 

The Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development (ANHD) builds community power to win affordable housing and thriving, equitable neighborhoods for all New Yorkers. As a member organization of 80+ community groups across New York City, we use research, advocacy, and grassroots organizing to build equity and justice in low-income, historically marginalized neighborhoods and city-wide. Learn more at

The Pitkin Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) is a nonprofit community development organization serving businesses and property owners on Pitkin Avenue between Howard and Mother Gaston and Rockaway between Glenmore and Belmont. The Pitkin Avenue BID also creates programming for the entrepreneurs and residents in Brownsville, Brooklyn. We aim to make Brownsville a better place to live, work, shop, and visit.

Sunnyside Shines is a Business Improvement District (BID) covering all properties fronting Queens Boulevard from 38th Street to 50th Street, as well as Greenpoint Avenue from Queens Boulevard to mid-block between 42nd and 43rd Streets. The mission of Sunnyside Shines is to invigorate and enrich the economic life of the neighborhood by creating a safe, welcoming and dynamic commercial district in Sunnyside, Queens.

Founded as the Capitol District Management Association in 2009, the 161st Street Business Improvement District (BID) was created to provide a vibrant commercial district and improve the quality of life for those who live, work, visit, and shop on 161st Street in the Bronx. The 161st Street BID aims to keep the streets clean, promote commerce, and enrich the area through special events and cultural projects.