Capstone Courses and Projects
CIVITAS is a memberbased nonprofit organization serving the Upper East Side and East Harlem communities for the last 30 years on a variety of initiatives in the areas of zoning, transportation, streetscape, and environmental quality. With the assistance of the Capstone team, CIVITAS wanted to gather data to ensure its current and future initiatives correspond with the needs of the community and engage a broader spectrum of the community than it has historically. The Capstone team conducted a comprehensive community engagement study of its large and diverse community districts in East Harlem and the Upper East Side. The Capstone team analyzed survey results and produced recommendations on issues to pursue that are a high priority for local community members and feasible to undertake given the organization's capacity.
Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation
Executives at Deutsche Bank have developed an interest in the social impact of loan programs and awards that they provide for community development initiatives. Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) regulations measure financial investments in neighborhoods, but do not measure the shortand longterm impacts of these investments. The Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation (DBAF) and the Community Development Finance Group have granted awards to NYC community based initiatives over the past decade. The programs have provided predevelopment funding for housing rehabilitation and development in New York City. In order to fully understand the social impacts associated with DBAF's investments, the Capstone team analyzed the financial impact of the awards on the developments, the social impact of the developments on the tenants, and the social impact of the project developments on the local communities. Utilizing community input, the team also provided suggestions on ways to enhance the award programs as well as how to include these findings in the due diligence process.
Enterprise Community Investment, Inc.
Enterprise Community Investment, Inc. has invested in a senior affordable housing project, St. Luke's Hospital, located in Cleveland, Ohio. The project will be completed in three phases and will utilize both LowIncome Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and Federal Historic Tax Credits. Enterprise wanted to know what risk the uncertainty of a multiphased project poses on the viability of Historic Tax Credits and how this risk will be transmitted to its investors. The Capstone team traveled to Cleveland to visit the site and conducted research regarding similar developments across the country. The Capstone team's final product was a case study with best practices for future multiphased historic tax credit projects and recommendations for Phase III.
Greater New Orleans, Inc.
Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.) was charged by the State of Louisiana to coordinate the development of a new municipal water management system for the City of New Orleans and portions of its adjacent suburbs. In conjunction with this endeavor, the Capstone team prepared a reference document of case studies detailing best practices in worldwide water management systems, including physical components, financing mechanisms, and implementation strategies. In light of the area's postHurricane Katrina setting, the team emphasized storm water mitigation strategies in other lowlying and floodprone areas. Additionally, the team analyzed potential economic development opportunities and impacts that may present themselves with the implementation of the best management practices. GNO, Inc. will use these recommendations as it engages local political stakeholders, the general public, and consultants who will contribute to the creation of this new plan.
Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance
The Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance (MWA)—an umbrella nonprofit representing nearly 500 organizations—is a leader in public access, planning, and environmental work related to the New York Harbor. The Capstone team developed a stepbystep strategic plan for MWA to work toward expanded passenger ferry service in the metro area. The plan uses eleven case studies of ferry systems, interviews with industry experts and government officials, NYCEDC's Comprehensive Citywide Ferry Study, the upcoming East River ferry service, and the team's creative input as a basis for its recommendations. The team's recommendations include an East River ferry partnership with EDC and NY Waterways, strategies to engage Community Boards, opportunities for upland transportation connections, funding opportunities, an exploration of expanding commuter ferry capacity for emergency service, and a partnership with business leaders interested in strengthening the New York region.
New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets
The Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAGM) is charged with fostering a competitive and safe New York food and agricultural industry for the benefit of producers and consumers. As part of its goal to serve producers, DAGM enlisted the Capstone team to study food processors in New York City in order to better understand the benefits and threats they face in choosing to locate here. The team studied businesses in a variety of phases (startups, expanding businesses, largescale processors, and recently closed) and examined their location choices within the context of economic and policy landscapes. Geographic hotspots of processing were identified through use of GIS and the team conducted case studies of firms within those hotspots or other relevant boundaries.
THE POINT Community Development Corporation is focused on youth development and community revitalization in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx. THE POINT asked the Capstone team to develop an interim site plan for an undeveloped land parcel that it had acquired, but was not using to its full potential. The Capstone team performed a rigorous community outreach process to collect input from residents and local stakeholders on the community's needs and preferred uses for the site. The team also considered financial feasibility, market conditions, organizational capacity, and mission alignment, in addition to community input to determine the best use for the site. The report includes final recommendations for the use of the site, potential opportunities for partnerships, funding sources for implementation, as well as general considerations for longerterm site development as further space and funding become available.
IBM has a longstanding history of technological excellence and innovation. Its Corporate Citizenship division has recently launched the Smarter Cities Challenge, inviting cities across the world to apply for funding and technical assistance grants. Part of this portfolio includes City Forward, IBM's newly released, free online public data comparison tool. The Capstone team piloted the tool before and after its release, providing IBM with perspective on the user experience. As part of the analysis of City Forward, the team developed evaluation criteria, including user experience, aesthetics, accessibility, data availability, and visualization best practices. The Capstone team gathered research through market analysis, interviews with leaders in the field of data visualization, and a literature review. The team provided IBM with a report documenting this research along with recommendations on how to transform City Forward into a more useful tool for practitioners of urban policy and planning.
The Rye YMCA Complete Streets Project is an initiative to promote safer and multimodal streets in the City of Rye, Village of Mamaroneck, Town of Mamaroneck, and Village of Larchmont as part of the Rye YMCA's Activate America campaign. The Capstone team evaluated physical, policy, and funding possibilities for the four communities. Using one study site in each community, the Capstone team applied Complete Street principles to develop a series of physical recommendations that enhance the site for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike. The Capstone team also provided recommendations for policy implementation and funding opportunities. At the culmination of the project, the Capstone team presented its findings to the communities and stakeholders.
York College engaged a Capstone team to develop physical design and programmatic recommendations that both improve the physical connectivity of the York Campus and help to increase a sense of community at the College. In particular, the team looked to identify projects of progressive scale that would have a large impact on the York Community. The Capstone project worked within the guiding principles of promoting health, connecting students with history and cultural resources, and strengthening York's brand. The team developed a "Pilot Project" which is a one day event oncampus designed to foster informal interactions among students and faculty and promote school spirit. The Capstone team's recommendations are the result of consultation and collaboration with York students, faculty, and administration as well as with community stakeholders.