Public Works Partners is thrilled to announce that, in collaboration with the NYC Economic Development Corporation and a consortium of renowned firms including Arcadis, Sam Schwartz, and Field Operations, we are at the helm of the exciting project to transform Manhattan’s iconic Fifth Avenue Corridor. Stretching from Bryant Park to Central Park, this pedestrian-centered, sustainable transformation promises to redefine the very heart of our city.
Announced in early October by Mayor Eric Adams, the Future of Fifth initiative seeks to extend the success of Open Streets: “The research is clear that Open Streets bring more people to our city’s public spaces, more business to our city’s stores, and more jobs to New Yorkers. That’s why we are reimagining Fifth Avenue as a safer, less congested, pedestrian-centered boulevard that also prioritizes public space, mass transit, and cyclists.” This project is not just about revitalizing a thoroughfare; it’s about creating a dynamic and inclusive environment that resonates with the city’s residents and its many visitors
At the heart of this project lies a commitment to meaningful engagement. We understand that the Fifth Avenue Corridor is more than just a physical space; it’s a reflection of the diverse voices, cultures, and aspirations that make up our vibrant community. As such, our role entails gathering meaningful feedback from community members regarding how they use the Fifth Avenue corridor and what services they feel are lacking. Drawing on our robust community research experience, Public Works is collaborating with Gehl to design and conduct a comprehensive shoppers survey that will ultimately inform our understanding of Fifth Avenue’s potential future direction and contribution to inclusive economic growth.
Stay tuned for updates on this exciting journey as we work towards creating a world-class promenade accessible to all New Yorkers!
Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center (IFCC): Creativity, Culture, and Community in Our Latest Project
The Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center (IFCC) is a community-based arts center located at 5340 N Interstate Avenue in North Portland. The building was originally constructed in 1910 and used as a fire station until 1959. In 1982, Portland’s first Black City Commissioner and Portland Park & Recreation (PP&R) Director, Charles Jordan, established IFCC as a community space and a focal point for Black culture. The structure consists of a 99-seat theater, rehearsal studio, and gallery. IFCC has served as a cultural home for the Black community since its founding.
IFCC is an anchor facility where the history of Portland’s Black community – and its rich arts and culture contributions – can be presented, displayed, discussed, and honored.
In July 2018, former PP&R Commissioner Amanda Fritz appointed a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to develop a vision and recommend a sustainable operating model for IFCC. Funded by the 2020 Parks Local Option Levy, the CAC prioritized the roll out of a feasibility study and community engagement process to help inform how IFCC can be activated for future uses. The CAC’s goal is a revitalized IFCC, and this feasibility study is a necessary step for Parks to green light the project. In alignment with this vision, the study will produce market, financial, and operational analyses to determine a sustainable operating plan.
Public Works Partners, in partnership with Concordia, AEA Consulting and The Villavaso Group is at the forefront of this transformative initiative, working closely with PP&R and the CAC. We have been commissioned to lead the community engagement process and feasibility study to explore how the redevelopment of IFCC can meaningfully connect to history, culture, and community priorities. Our approach centers on meaningful engagement with the Portland community to actively involve residents in shaping the future of IFCC. The revitalized IFCC is poised to stand as a testament to the dynamic interplay of the preservation of Black history, culture, and art in Portland’s evolving landscape.
We look forward to sharing more updates and progress as we work together to shape a brighter future for IFCC and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of North Portland’s Black community.
Stay tuned for further developments!
Exploring Opportunities: Navigating the NYC Apprenticeship Landscape Report
The Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development in New York City has published an extensive analysis of the city’s apprenticeship network. The New York City Landscape Report delves into a range of effective methods aimed at linking 30,000 residents to apprenticeship opportunities by 2030. It tackles essential workforce issues and lays out a strategic direction for the city’s development. The report acts as a navigational aid in the complex world of apprenticeships, providing an in-depth examination of different apprenticeship models, the number of registered apprenticeships being monitored, recommended practices, and other relevant details. Public Works CEO Celeste Frye was one of the workforce development experts consulted to contribute to the findings of this report. Since our inception in 2010, Public Works Partners has partnered with multiple educational institutions, nonprofits, and government agencies to design, implement, and evaluate apprenticeships in various growth sectors. Click here to learn how we partner with workforce development organizations.
Introducing Our Newest Project Coordinator!
We are delighted to welcome Maliya Naz Malik as a Project Coordinator on the Business Development team. In this position, she plays a role in implementing design solutions spanning various domains, including marketing, internal and external communications, and client deliverables. Maliya brings a wealth of experience from her time at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, where she specialized in digital media, and marketing. Her unique background places her at the exciting intersection of coding, design, and human rights. Join us in extending a warm welcome to Maliya, and let’s eagerly anticipate the fresh and creative perspectives she will contribute to our team. Here’s to new beginnings – BLAST OFF!
Empowering Small Businesses: A Recap of the Small Business Anti-Displacement Network Conference
Public Works Senior Manager Benjamin Martinez Newman presented alongside Alexandra Ruiz of Poder Capital, Jessica Rose of Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, and Calvin Brown of the NYC Department of Small Businesses at the 2023 Small Business Anti-Displacement Network Conference in College Park, Maryland. Their panel, “Equitable Economic Growth: How Helping Micro Businesses Lifts Communities”, offered a fresh perspective on the crucial role micro-businesses play in local development.
The discussion focused on how to support micro businesses through the lens of lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
- Access to Financing: The pandemic highlighted the existing inequities in access to financing, especially for minority and women owned small businesses. Policy makers should invest in local community development financial institutions (CDFI) with a record of supporting micro businesses.
- Capacity Building: Business support programming should address both immediate needs and build skills and financial literacy to enhance long-term operational preparedness. For instance, Public Works Partners recently collaborated with the NYC Office of Financial Empowerment on a self-employed tax toolkit.