About Us - History - Restoration
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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.

"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 Bedford Stuyvesant

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:

Financial Empowerment & Workforce Development

Our Center for Personal Financial Health is a one-stop, multi-service hub designed to improve local residents’ financial, occupational and educational outcomes.  Our integrated service model assists adults and youth, individuals and families build economic self-sufficiency through a holistic and client-facing approach that facilitates economic self-sufficiency and family stability while providing opportunities for upward mobility. We offer dynamic classes, workshops, one-on-one counseling, and more at no cost to the community. The key features of this work are debt reduction/credit counseling,  financial education, emergency cash/rental assistance, tax preparation services, referral  for legal and mental health services and a host of other community needs. Approximately  8,000 clients receive financial education counseling annually. Our workforce development programs feature  digital upskills training, a high-performing software engineering fellowship program,  recruitment and placement and a series of social supports that help job seekers including  résumé preparation, diversity, equity and inclusion, self-branding, self-confidence and a  host of other services.

Arts and Culture

Central to Restoration’s vision of community development is the importance of celebrating and nurturing the artistic contributions of our community. Our Youth Arts Academy (YAA) is virtually the only comprehensive arts education institution in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Together with another on-premises organization, 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 features artwork across multiple media, showcasing the work of some 100 local and national artists each year and drawing an average of 2,000 visitors. The recently renovated Billie Holiday Theatre is one of very few full-fledged theaters in Central Brooklyn, serving 30,000 people annually over a 36-week season. Winner of numerous Obie and AUDELCO awards, the Theatre is a launching pad for aspiring theatre professionals and a great community resource for residents interested in enjoying quality performances of the works of critically acclaimed playwrights.

Community Revitalization

Restoration’s programs have attracted more than $750 million in investments to Central Brooklyn in the past five decades. In addition to our reputation as one of New York City’s largest  financial empowerment centers, Restoration is also a real estate holding corporation.  Our 2-acre “superblock” campus is home to 41 small businesses that span retail,  academics, banking, dining, fresh produce, arts and culture, NYC and NYS district  representatives, a U.S. Post Office, African Art Museum, a renovated performing arts  theatre (The Billie), health and beauty products, and LGBTQ nonprofit, and a center for  substance use/mental health services. In addition, the Bed-Stuy Gateway Business  Improvement District and Community Board 3 also have residency at our administrative  headquarters. All of our small business tenants offer services beyond our direct social  services programs that everyone benefits from as a one-stop shop.


Restoration’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) has been recognized as a leading provider of energy conservation services in the New York metro area, having weatherized over 10,000 homes and units since its inception. Supported by the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the goal of the program is to reduce energy costs and improve safety and health standards for low-income residents. Services include installation of new windows, upgrade of heating systems, and the provision of energy efficient appliances, such as air conditioners and refrigerators.

Small Business Services

The Restoration Business Exchange and Accelerator, our small business center, services 400 businesses,  which is nearly half of the small business segment in Central Brooklyn. The program features a business accelerator program for women-owned businesses with  demonstrable ability to make $1M or more in revenue each year. Our small business  coaches provide technical assistance, financial planning, operations training, marketing  support and link businesses to CDFIs and other potential lending partners.

Affordable Housing and Homeownership

Housing and homeownership is a pillar of Restoration’s services  and is arguably one of the most beneficial means to asset-building, wealth accumulation  and generational wealth. In the course of our history, we have developed and/or preserved over 7,800 affordable housing units. Our homeownership counseling program now services 600 clients and provides over 2,600 sessions virtually and in-person and has helped 42 residents purchase homes in the last two years alone. Our commitment to healthy neighborhoods remains at the forefront and we are constantly retooling our services to include technological enhancements to attract younger generations and reach more people who  prefer remote services.