Capstone Courses and Projects
Enterprise Community Partners
Enterprise Community Partners is a national nonprofit organization that provides expertise and financing for affordable housing development for low and moderate income families. Enterprise recently developed the Green Communities Criteria, a points-based system that provides a framework and resources to build environmentally friendly, affordable homes. In New York City, all HPD-funded housing development projects are required to comply with the Criteria. The Access to Fresh, Local Food option of the Criteria allows developers to earn points for implementing a food access model into a residential development, which includes: community gardens or urban farms, farmers’ markets, and community supported agriculture. The Capstone team created a toolkit to guide developers through the decision making process of each food access model and tested the toolkit in a real-life simulation with a Community Development Corporation. The toolkit identifies the benefits and challenges of each food access model and provides resources to connect developers with experts in the field.
Made in Lower East Side
Made in Lower East Side (miLES) is an emerging social enterprise that seeks to connect New York City creatives to short-term rentals in the Lower East Side (LES) neighborhood of Manhattan. Taking advantage of the vast amount of empty storefront space in the area, miLES offers landlords the possibility of filling their vacant space with exciting activities in spaces that would otherwise be gathering nothing but dust. The Capstone team was charged with assisting in the primary stages of business development. First, the team conducted a benchmarking examination of organizations with structures similar to miLES’, inventoried vacant storefronts in the LES, identified potential landlords for the organization to reach out to, and ultimately developed a series of pitch books for miLES to use when reaching out to landlords.
McCormack Baron Salazar
The Capstone team worked with McCormack Baron Salazar (MBS), a leading national developer of low- and mixed-income housing, to ascertain the viability of securing funding from the EB-5 immigrant investor program to urban residential development. The EB-5 program, administered by the United States Customs and Immigration Service, awards permanent residence visas to immigrants and their families in exchange for qualifying investments in job-creating enterprises. A number of real-estate projects have begun to use the program in recent years, but the job creation requirements – 10 jobs per $500,000 investment – have inhibited widespread adoption by developers of residential properties. The team performed extensive research into the legal and regulatory context of the EB-5 program, investigating compatibility with MBS’ business model through a series of interviews with developers and intermediaries. Project results included recommendations on how MBS can administer, structure, and attract EB-5 financing for specific upcoming development projects.
South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation
The South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (SoBRO) is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the South Bronx through social and economic revitalization strategies targeted at low-income communities. In an effort to redevelop 48-acres of underutilized and contaminated parcels of land in the Soundview section of the Bronx, SoBRO tasked the Capstone team with preparing a pre-nomination report for New York State's Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) community visioning planning grant. The grant will allow SoBRO to better understand the opportunities and challenges of redeveloping this post-industrial section of the Bronx. The Capstone team conducted extensive data collection, site analyses, and stakeholder outreach to produce an existing conditions report with recommendations for the highest and best use of vacant land in the study area. Based on the findings, the Capstone team also created a preliminary site design of the area.
Institute for Rational Urban Mobility
The Institute for Rational Urban Mobility (IRUM) was seeking to reactivate four-miles of railroad track running through central Queens. The plan called for a track reactivation design solution and the creation of a direct connection from the Midtown Manhattan Central Business District to JFK International Airport. IRUM requested a Capstone team to conduct extensive research of reactivating the line and produce several recommendations for a plan that incorporated both a restored railway and greenway for active recreational use. The plan analyzed airport traffic, subway and train use, construction and operating costs, and economic and environmental impacts of the project. If implemented, the final plan will keep New York City competitive with cities, such as London, Hong Kong, and San Francisco, while providing a beautiful public amenity to the residents and visitors to Queens.
New York City Department of Transportation
New York City Department of Transportation’s (NYCDOT) Office of Freight Mobility works to improve the efficiency and sustainability of freight movement throughout the City. A Capstone team was engaged to identify how consolidation centers can benefit the city’s freight system by accepting large truck deliveries and then distributing goods via smaller, more efficient and sustainable vehicles for the “last mile” of travel. The team examined the existing state of the practice by identifying the challenges/barriers for consolidation in NYC, specifically in Midtown and Downtown. Additionally, the team analyzed effective models in other cities to provide examples of success and failures. Focusing on the area within the Grand Central Partnership as a potential pilot, the final report included data collected through surveys, interviews and onsite observation about freight operations. Finally, the team used these findings to make specifically tailored policy recommendations for accommodating freight consolidation within Midtown and Downtown Manhattan.
Rockaway Waterfront Alliance
The Rockaway Waterfront Alliance (RWA) partners with local residents and youth to revitalize and protect the Rockaway waterfront. The Capstone team worked with RWA to develop a comprehensive plan for the area between Beach 32nd Street and Beach 54th Street. The majority of this area has remained vacant and blighted for decades, and represents one of the last large areas of undeveloped land in New York City. The arrival of Superstorm Sandy in the fall of 2012 illustrated the region’s vulnerability to extreme natural events, and the need to reexamine traditional models of coastal development. By conducting fieldwork research, examining case studies, interviewing stakeholders, and holding a community planning charrette, the team created a plan focused on strengthening the environmental, economic, and social resilience of the eastern end of the Rockaway Peninsula. The plan provides RWA and the site developer with a framework of community-based and locally sensitive recommendations.
Vision Long Island
Vision Long Island (VLI) is a nonprofit organization that works with Long Island communities to promote more livable, economically sustainable, and environmentally responsible growth. The organization has been working closely with local stakeholders in Hicksville, NY for the past three years to develop a vision plan to revitalize its downtown through zoning changes and public investments that would promote development. The goal of the plan is to rezone the area around Hicksville’s transit hub, creating pedestrian-friendly streetscapes, a mix of housing types, and an attractive downtown retail and office center. VLI requested a Capstone team to conduct an economic analysis to assess the implications of the plan if it were to be implemented. The Capstone team’s retail market analysis and fiscal impact analysis findings assessed whether a market for retail expansion existed within the downtown area, and whether tax revenues generated from such development outweighed expenditures.