"The program for the development of Bedford Stuyvesant will combine the best of community action with the best of the private enterprise system. Neither by itself is enough, but in their combination lies our hope for the future."
Senator Robert F. Kennedy
344 Monroe Street
In 1964, with the cooperation of Senator Jacob K. Javits and Mayor John W. Lindsay, Senator Robert F. Kennedy set into motion a round of legislative action that created the Special Impact Program, an amendment to the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. He announced a seven point action plan that would serve as a national model for community development. The plan called for the formation of the Bedford Stuyvesant Renewal and Rehabilitation Corporation and the Development Services Corporation, involving assistance from some of the foremost leaders of the American business community.
Under the leadership of Judge Thomas R. Jones, in 1967 the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Restoration) was formally established to consolidate and carry forward these efforts. Deputy Police Commissioner Franklin A. Thomas, an original board member of the Bedford Stuyvesant Renewal and Rehabilitation Corporation and later to become President of the Ford Foundation, was elected as Restoration’s first president. Initial funding support came from the Taconic Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, the Edgar M. Stern Family Fund, the J.M. Kaplan Fund and the Ford Foundation.
One year later, Restoration purchased an abandoned milk bottling plant in the heart of Bedford Stuyvesant, Sheffield Farms, to serve as its new corporate headquarters. Renovations soon began to create what is now known as Restoration Plaza. Completed in 1972, today this 300,000 square feet commercial plaza is home to Restoration’s headquarters, the historic Billie Holiday Theatre, the Skylight Gallery and scores of local businesses, non-profits and government agencies, including a post office, local branches of JPMorgan Chase, Washington Mutual Bank and Citibank, Super Foodtown, a satellite campus of the College of New Rochelle and Assemblywoman Annette Robinson’s office.
Since 1967, Restoration has catalyzed enormous economic, cultural, and educational improvements in Central Brooklyn. Just a sampling of our accomplishments include:
Housing: Restoration has constructed or renovated 2,200 units of housing, including homeownership and rental. The corporation has also beautifully repaired the facades of 150 homes on 150 blocks and provided $60 million in mortgage financing to nearly 1500 homeowners. As the height of its activity, Restoration was the second largest real estate owner in Brooklyn after the City of New York and controlled over $12 million in fixed assets. Today, Restoration remains committed to creating a mixed income community where households of all income levels have access to quality housing.
Economic Development: Restoration's programs have attracted more than $500 million in investments to Central Brooklyn: placed over 20,000 youth and adults in jobs; and catalyzed physical and economic improvements to Fulton Street.
Arts and Culture: Our Youth Arts Academy remains the only comprehensive arts education institution in Bedford Stuyvesant. Together with art resident the Noel Pointer Foundation, the Academy , offers instruction in dance, music, and theatre to over 400 students ages 3-18 each year. The Skylight Gallery continues to feature artwork across media, showcasing the work of some 100 artists each year and drawing an average of 2,000 visitors. The Billie Holiday Theatre is still the only resource of its kind in Central Brooklyn, serving 30,000 people annually over a 36-week season. Winner of numerous Obie and AUDELCO awards, the Theatre is fertile ground for aspiring theatre professionals and an incredible community resource for residents interested in enjoying quality theatrical performances by critically acclaimed playwrights.
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