The Urban Design Forum and Van Alen Institute today announced the expansion of Neighborhoods Now, a COVID-19 response initiative that connects New York City’s hard-hit neighborhoods with coalitions of architects, designers, engineers, lawyers, and planners providing pro bono expertise. From February to June 2021, Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE)and Think!Chinatown, Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association, and Fourth Arts Block (FABnyc) will lead community working groups in Chinatown, the East Village and Lower East Side, and the South Bronx. Each group aims to convert underutilized outdoor spaces as sites for local programming and cultural revitalization. The Forum and Van Alen have granted each community partner $10,000 to implement these strategies, and will provide additional fundraising support as funds become available. Since April 2020, initiative has assisted more than 100 restaurants, small businesses, and cultural organizations.
Union Square Partnership kicked-off 2021 with a transformative plan for the Union Square-14th Street area, concentrating on five key improvements with a focus on accessibility, district-wide connectivity, and substantial increases in public open space.