Capstone Courses and Projects

Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union

New Branch Expansion, New Market Opportunities
The Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union (LESPFCU) is a member-owned, nonprofit financial institution that provides a full range of personal, affordable financial services and reinvests members' money. In essence, it is a bank of, for and by the people. Founded by community activists when commercial banks had abandoned the neighborhood, the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union strives to expand credit access to low-income and immigrant residents of the neighborhood. When LESPFCU assumed operations of the historic Henry Street Settlement Credit Union last year, the credit union enlisted the Capstone team to develop a strategic plan for attracting new members. The Capstone team drew upon research and a competitor’s analysis to identify the credit union’s core competencies. Focus groups tested a product bundle that would appeal to low-income, Latina women. The Capstone team presented recommendations on how to reach this new market and a feasibility study of potential opportunities that would best serve members' needs. This Capstone was made possible with support from The Moody’s Foundation.

UPROSE (United Puerto RicanOrganization of Sunset Park)

From Highway to Greenway: A community-focused analysis of four plans affecting Sunset Park
UPROSE is a youth and environmental justice advocacy organization based in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, whose main goals include maintaining a working waterfront and increasing green space to improve the health of its community. The Capstone team examined the impacts of four proposed plans in Sunset Park: the Bush Terminal Piers Open Space Project, the Gowanus Expressway alternatives, the Cross-Harbor Freight Movement Project, and the Greenway/Blueway. The team examined the economic and financial feasibility, physical conflicts, environmental impacts, and the ability of each plan to complement the neighborhood’s tradition of manufacturing. Using this analysis, the team recommended advocacy strategies to UPROSE and produced community advocacy materials. Where plans seemed unlikely to occur, special attention was paid to devising alternative solutions that met key neighborhood objectives, such as pollution reduction. This Capstone was made possible with support from the KeySpan Foundation.

Central Village Block Association

Business Diversity Strategy for Central Greenwich Village
Over the past decade there has been a significant change in the retail composition of the central part of Greenwich Village. Many of the mom-and-pop shops that once served the needs of local residents have been driven out of business. The Central Village Block Association (CVBA) supports a diversity of businesses as well as a diversity of clientele visiting businesses in the Village. This study presents a plan that is intended to increase business diversity and enhance the quality of life for its residents. The Capstone team’s business strategy includes: a market research report consisting of a demographic study, land use assessment and comparable analysis of neighborhoods similar to the CVBA’s; a business improvement plan centered on the marketing of Central Greenwich Village; and an organizational action plan to expedite and maximize efficiency of achieving its goals.

Seedco

Neighborhood Economics Initiatives
Seedco (the Structured Employment Economic Development Corporation), a national community development operating intermediary, creates opportunities for low-wage workers and their families by engaging with community partners and anchor institutions to develop, operate and learn from model programs that: help people join the workforce and achieve economic self-sufficiency; assist small businesses; and promote asset building for residents and businesses in economically distressed communities. The Capstone team worked with Seedco to develop a comprehensive economic and workforce development strategy that targets neighborhoods in Upper Manhattan with high concentrations of small businesses and low-wage workers. The project focused on identifying and analyzing industry sectors in Upper Manhattan, and identifying the technical, financial, and workforce related services needed to support and foster growth within these sectors.

Sustainable Long Island

Visioning and Assessment Tools
Sustainable Long Island (SLI) is a nonprofit organization that works with Long Island communities to revitalize their economic centers. SLI engages community members, elected officials, and civic leaders through a comprehensive Visioning Process to create a development plan designed to serve the community’s needs.The goals of the Capstone project were to create intake assessment tools SLI will use when evaluating future community projects and to provide information concerning visioning processes nationwide. These assessment tools will evaluate the existing assets of a community in need of assistance as well as the impact SLI could potentially make given its resources and skills. The project deliverables include a community assessment tool, a project intake assessment tool, a “best practices” report of visioning processes, and a brochure aimed at first-time home buyers detailing the benefits of living in a smartgrowth community.This Capstone was made possible with support from the KeySpan Foundation.

Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance: Greenpoint/Williamsburg

Striking a Balance Among Housing, Industry, Transportation, and Open Space
In recent years as manufacturing has continued its relative decline and NYC’s strong housing market has created pressure for growth in outer boroughs, the neighborhoods of Greenpoint and Williamsburg in Brooklyn have been experiencing rapid residential growth. Much of this growth has been gentrification and has, in some significant ways, led to an imbalance between the community’s vision of itself and actual growth trends, creating tension between the residents and their region. In recognition of these trends, the Department of City Planning conducted a study of the Greenpoint/Williamsburg zoning regulations, which has recommended a large-scale rezoning of the two neighborhoods. The City’s rezoning proposal is the largest rezonings of waterfront land currently being undertaken throughout the City, and is being closely monitored by many civic groups and residents. To examine the rezoning plan in-depth, this Capstone team focuses on four key aspects of there development of Greenpoint-Williamsburg:Transportation - What are the existing transportation needs in the area, and how can they be met? How will new residents get around?; Housing - Is the affordable housing plan put forth by DCP the most effective way to ensure affordability in Greenpoint and Williamsburg? How might this be improved?; Open Space - What are the critical issues with the open space component of DCP’s rezoning? What can be done to ensure that a world-classes planade is created, on a reasonable timeline?; and Industrial Retention - How can we ensure that the new residential units do not squeeze manufacturing out of Greenpoint and Williamsburg? How can we support the continuing success of these uses, in a manner compatible with a growing residential population? This Capstone was made possible with the support from an anonymous donor through FJC: A Donor-Advised Fund.

Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance: Long Island City/Astoria

Urban Tides: Rediscovering a Living Waterfront
Rich in history, diversity, economic activity, cultural institutions, and local support, the Astoria and Long Island City, Queens, waterfront is ripe for rediscovery. From the East River, the preponderance of industry along this waterfront is apparent. At the same time, one cannot overlook the abundance of open space interspersed between these industrial land uses. With much of the Astoria/Long Island City waterfront taken up by industry and park-land, there leaves little room for residential and commercial development on the East River waterfront. With changed zoning in Hunter’s Point, a neighborhood within southern Long Island City, the area is trying to accommodate more residential and commercial land uses. In an effort to allow the sustainable growth and development within the area while supporting the local industrial sector, the Capstone team is developing a comprehensive waterfront access plan. The team is making recommendations to improve transportation, active and passive recreation opportunities, and streetscape design, and aims to improve public accessibility to and utilization of the seven miles of East River waterfront. This Capstone was made possible with the support from an anonymous donor through FJC: A Donor-Advised Fund.

Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance:Lower Manhattan

Revitalizing the East River Waterfront in Lower Manhattan
The East River waterfront in lower Manhattan is the birthplace of modern New York City, and an area where the city’s famous financial industry mixes with major tourist sites and a rapidly growing residential area. Past efforts to redevelop this area relying on large-scale retail development at the South Street Seaport and Pier 17 have largely been unsuccessful. However, the imminent departure of the Fulton Street Fish Market, the recent sale of Pier 17 to a new owner and the continued growth of the residential population, present an opportunity to develop a new plan for the community that revitalizes the area to better serve the needs of residents, visitors and daytime workers. The Capstone team lays out a strategy on three key fronts: increasing access to the waterfront from upland locations and along the East River through a combination of transportation improvements; redeveloping areas of the Fulton Street Fish Market and Seaport areas with artist residences, galleries and other cultural facilities; and reorganizing and developing open space areas for passive and recreational activities. This Capstone was made possible with the support from an anonymous donor through FJC: A Donor-Advised Fund.

Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance: Port Morris/Hunts Point

Envisioning the Future of the South Bronx Waterfront
The South Bronx waterfront Capstone team examined the neighborhoods of Hunts Point and Port Morris and created a South Bronx Waterfront Improvement Plan. This plan reflects the initiative and energy that is driving the revitalization of the South Bronx. The residents of the study area carry the burden of New York City’s most noxious and entrenched industrial institutions. These include waste transfer stations, power plants, a sewage treatment plant, and a prison barge. This proposal balances the community’s desire f or open space and safe waterfront access, the economic importance of the area’s industrial concentration, the need to move goods in a more environmentally sound manner, and the ecological and historic significance of the area. Elements of the plan include street end parks, a water-front greenway, transportation enhancements, and environmental education opportunities. These proposals synthesize and expand on the goals of numerous community groups, city agencies, elected officials, and concerned citizens of the South Bronx. This Capstone was made possible with the support from an anonymous donor through FJC: A Donor-Advised Fund.