︎ Streetlab Photo of an aerial view of the busy Corona Plaza, with bright orange umbrellas, seating, and vendors under white tents decorating the open space. In a corner of the plaza, adults and kids crowd around StreetLab children’s play station.

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Design Trust for Public Space and the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) have partnered on Neighborhood Commons: Plazas, Sidewalks & Beyond, a project that will explore opportunities to improve the current model of public space governance and programming.

The COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated, more than ever before, the unique and key role that small businesses play in the livelihood of our neighborhoods and public spaces. With the crisis hitting commercial corridors and main streets hard, Neighborhood Commons is a timely initiative that will provide small businesses and place-based organizations with tools and strategies to recover as community anchors that support our main streets.

Working with Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), Community Based Organizations (CBOs), and local businesses,  Neighborhood Commons Aims To: 


Explore alternative models for public space management, and ways that these approaches could work within current legal frameworks in NYC.


Examine potential new funding mechanisms for public space maintenance and programming.


Explore different types of physical interventions and strategies for innovative public space programming that further support commerce and local arts/culture.


Refine existing and/or develop alternative governance models that enable inclusive decision-making processes to produce unique, locally-customized programming and space activation.

The project, which will culminate in a pilot activation in Brownsville, Brooklyn  and a photo exhibition with partners in Jamaica, Queens in June 2022, includes a comprehensive research process that has encompassed a review of citywide policies impacting public space use and management, as well as stakeholder engagement with business improvement district and other place-based organization leaders across 12 neighborhoods.