Capstone Courses and Projects

Apollo Theater Foundation

Central Harlem Demographic and Market Analysis
"The Apollo Theater Foundation, Inc., is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to preserve the historic Apollo Theater and expand the reach of the “Apollo Experience.” The Apollo is now at a pivotal point in its development, as it attempts to find a balance between its for­profit (performances series) and nonprofit (educational and community) goals while in the midst of preparing for a renovation and re­opening in 2011. The Apollo requested a Capstone team to provide insight into how the changes in neighborhood composition, real estate market, and business community would impact its current and future programming. The Capstone team conducted extensive research into historical and existing conditions in Central Harlem, forecasted trends, and produced recommendations in order to inform the Apollo's strategic planning process. Additionally, in an effort to ensure the ongoing data capture of employee demographic information, which the Apollo needs for grant applications and incentive programs, the Capstone team created an electronic employee demographic tool and user manual that illustrates how to set up, maintain, and analyze data in the tool on an ongoing basis. "

Empire State Development Corporation

Environmental Sustainability Project
"The Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), a New York State public finance and development authority, enlisted the assistance of the Capstone team to investigate sustainable development opportunities, incentives, and best practices. Research was conducted using two nonprofit cultural institutions as case studies: the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan and the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Sullivan County. Through extensive telephone interviews and site visits, the team identified areas at both facilities where building and/or site performance upgrades could be applied. Federal, state, and local policies were assessed to understand any regulatory or institutional obstacles encountered at the facilities with regard to energy efficiency. The team developed a user­friendly catalogue/database of energy­saving financial incentives and technologies that can be applied to developments in New York State. Recommendations included in the final report take into consideration the challenges posed by the urban and rural contexts of the respective case study institutions. The report will enable ESDC to better promote sustainable development practices. "

Enterprise Community Partners

The Feasibility of Developing Affordable Housing on New York City Public Library Sites
"The perpetual demand for affordable housing in New York City, coupled with the lack of development sites throughout the five boroughs, have required developers to become creative in their site selection techniques. Consequently, Enterprise Community Partners has been examining the potential for developing affordable housing on top of existing public library sites. Many of these libraries were constructed in the 1960's as one­story bunker­type buildings, and are not fully built out to their maximum floor area ratios. Since these libraries are aging and many are in dire need of renovation, Enterprise retained a Capstone team to investigate the potential of partnering with the library systems (Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, and Queens Public Library) to determine the costs of rebuilding libraries with affordable housing. The team examined the inner workings of each library system and researched recent capital construction projects. The Capstone team learned about Enterprise's development costs, analyzed the costs of construction for a public library, and examined alternative funding sources for such a project. Finally, the Capstone team performed an air rights analysis and applied the team's construction metric on a few sites pre-selected by Enterprise."

Mississippi Center for Justice

"Growing Community Assets in Gulfport, Mississippi "
"Hurricane Katrina devastated whole communities along the Gulf Coast. The storm was particularly damaging to traditionally marginalized neighborhoods in Gulfport, MS, that have long struggled to capitalize upon their assets. The Mississippi Center for Justice, a public interest law firm, advocates on behalf of these neighborhoods in the post­Katrina planning and redevelopment process. Soria City and The Quarters, two predominantly African­American neighborhoods with rich historical legacies, are especially in need of community planning resources. The Capstone team conducted a comprehensive lot­by­lot parcel inventory survey (804 total property lots) of these areas, identifying land uses, physical structure, architectural style, and historical narratives. The team converted this data into a web­based geocoded database capable of GIS manipulation. Relying upon this database, the team delivered a best practices community development guidebook for both communities, tailoring an array of private and public programs to meet local needs. The Capstone team identified eight topic areas for community development: housing preservation and rehabilitation; infrastructure; youth work­force development; organizational capacity; small business incubation; cultural tourism; greenway development; and logistical solutions. "

New York City Mayor's Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability

Best Management Practices for Stormwater Management
"PlaNYC is a comprehensive effort carried out by the City of New York to address the new pressure on the city's infrastructure from the additional one million residents that are expected to reside in NYC by the year 2030. The Mayor’s Office asked the Capstone team to assist in Water, one of the five initiatives. Working alongside the Mayor's Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability (OLTPS), the Capstone team has carried out two phases of research to assist in efforts to develop policy to miti­gate stormwater runoff. Phase I included a detailed analysis of forty­five best management practices (BMPs) for stormwater runoff. Research included looking at cost, maintenance, implementation, and current uses of each BMP. Phase II looked more in detail at environmental conditions for BMPs in order to provide specific information on areas within NYC where BMPs could best be implemented. The research culminated in policy recommendations for the OLTPS on where and how to best implement BMPs in the NYC landscape. "

"New York University, Office of Strategic Assessment, Planning and Design"

NYU Green Buildings
"NYU is committed to environmental issues and has established the Sustainability Task Force with the main objective of reducing NYU's environmental footprint. Implementing sustainable building practices plays a crucial role in attaining NYU's sustainability goals, as buildings utilize an enormous amount of energy, water, materials, and other resources. This Capstone project was established to analyze twelve buildings that accurately represent NYU's building stock, and determine methods for attaining the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification and improvements in sustainable practices. The team gathered an inventory of the twelve selected buildings from various departments and that information was compiled, researched, and analyzed to create a report that lists what improvements must be made in order to obtain LEED certification. The team then made a series of recommendations to guide NYU in implementing sustainable practices for its building stock, and assist the Sustainability Task Force in achieving its goals. "

Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation

Identifying Needs and Exploring Options for Affordable Housing in a Changing Manhattan Neighborhood
"The Capstone team provided the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation (NMIC) with information to help the organization see the current state of the com­munity and evaluate the feasibility of affordable housing construction in the context of escalating costs and scarce available space. The first phase of the project presented the current state of the areas' demographic and housing situation. This quick snapshot will assist NMIC in the evaluation of its population's needs and will help guide the use of its organizational capacity and resources. The second phase provided an index of financial resources to fund affordable housing development. The Capstone team provided a comprehensive list of financial subsidies on local, state, and federal levels. The database includes financing mechanisms, targeted populations, and the relevant requirements of the administering agencies. The last phase of the project was to conduct a site­survey to capture detailed information on the physical attributes of vacant land currently zoned as residential and severely underbuilt properties in the area. NMIC will be able to use the survey to target potential sites of affordable housing development. "

Westchester County Department of Planning/Westchester County Department of Transportation

Bus Ridership Strategies for Westchester County
"Westchester County, NY, seeks to increase ""choice ridership"" on its Bee­Line bus sys­tem. Unlike ""captive riders"" or transit dependents who lack mobility alternatives, choice riders retain access to auto­mobiles. Westchester County has solicited the Capstone team's assistance in developing a set of strategies to achieve the goal of shifting a portion of the transportation picture from the least efficient mode (single occupancy vehicle) to a more efficient mode (bus transit). These recommendations will be included in “Westchester 2025,” the policy document created to guide future growth and development. The Capstone team analyzed current land­use policies and practices, demographic trends, and bus services, and compared this data against examples and techniques discussed in the literature. The team issued recommendations based on its findings. The Capstone team also completed three case­studies of municipalities within Westchester County: an urban downtown setting (City of New Rochelle); a commercial retail strip (the Central Avenue corridor in the Town of Greenburgh); and a small village setting (Village of Mount Kisco). "

Biloxi Housing Authority and Local Initiatives Support Corporation

"Post Hurricane Commercial Revitalization of Biloxi, Mississippi "
"Biloxi, MS, suffered extensive damage during hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Biloxi Housing Authority (BHA) has been spearheading revitalization and rebuilding efforts to restore the vitality and diversity that made Biloxi a great community. While many residents have returned to rebuild their homes and lives, many more are unable to come back due to a lack of housing. Rebuilding efforts in Biloxi have largely centered around workforce housing. The BHA has recognized that in order to create a vibrant and sustainable community, commercial revitalization is also necessary. The Capstone team was asked to research and analyze how best to rejuvenate Division Street, the main commercial corridor in East Biloxi. The team conducted two site visits to assess existing conditions and gather input from the community as to how they envision Division Street. Through extensive research into relevant and applicable case studies and land use assessments, the team developed a set of recommendations for spurring commercial revitalization along Division Street. "

Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project Local Development Corporation

"Revitalization Opportunities in Industrial Wallabout, Brooklyn ­An Economic Development Plan "
"Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project LDC (MARP) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to restore Myrtle Avenue in the neighborhoods of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, to a bustling, economically vital neighborhood commercial corridor. MARP charged the Capstone team with creating an economic development plan for a manufacturing­zoned area known as Wallabout, located just north of Myrtle Avenue. MARP's objectives are to retain and expand the presence of light manufacturing activities in the Wallabout area, while bridging retail, commercial, and industrial activity from the Brooklyn Navy Yard to the Myrtle Avenue corridor. The Capstone team provided recommendations for the project area based on existing conditions, field observations in the form of business surveys and stakeholder interviews, manufacturing market trend analysis, relevant case studies, and real estate feasibility studies. Ultimately, the plan produced by the Capstone team will help MARP to educate constituents and other interested parties about the potential for economic growth in the Wallabout area. "

Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University

Healthy Food Access in Underserved Urban Areas
"The Capstone team studied the problems associated with a lack of access to healthy food in underserved urban neighborhoods, and how planners can help rectify the situation. Grocery stores and supermarkets are common in suburbs, but in many poor neighborhoods with fewer transit options, healthy food is harder to find. This leads to a reliance on poor nutrition choices from fast­food outlets or convenience stores, which are common in low­income areas. Working with Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, the Capstone team researched the history of food retailers, and examined planning barriers that exacerbate food­access problems. The team developed an interactive guide for plan­ners and community organizers who are interested in bringing better food options to their cities, but are unsure how to proceed. By matching characteristics and variables with past success stories, the guide is designed to get planners started on helping solve an often unnoticed public health crisis. The team also compiled a report on available literature and case studies to summarize current trends in the field. "