Since our inception in 1986, the primary focus of our efforts has been the Bradhurst area of central Harlem, a once disinvested, blighted community that was overrun by crime, decay, drug abuse and poverty. Under the leadership of Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement (HCCI), the Bradhurst community is now a sought-after real-estate enclave that is widely viewed as a national model of community development. In our 27-year history we have developed a $500 million real estate portfolio comprised of more than 3000 units of affordable housing and 50 commercial spaces. Our social service programs have impacted more than 20,000 people. Our expertise has been sought by institutions from as far away as Germany and we are a model for more than 100 local member congregations.
Building on our past accomplishments in the areas of housing and social services, our current focus is to increase the economic vitality of the Bradhurst community and to achieve more economic independence for HCCI. We will meet these goals through the implementation of four core projects:
1) Developing the new HCCI Corporate Headquarters. Located at 260 W. 153rd Street between Frederick Douglass Boulevard and Macombs Place this project will consist of the demolition of HCCI’s Family Life Center building and the merging of the underlying lot with two vacant HPD lots to build a 75,500 GSF mixed use building. This new structure will allow HCCI to move all of its storefront offices from Frederick Douglass Blvd, making room for increased commercial activity along a key Harlem boulevard. These disparate offices will be moved into a single location dedicated to the revitalization of the Bradhurst community. In addition, the new complex will also offer a state-of-the-art affordable daycare facility. A key component in HCCI’s goal to boost the economic viability of local families, the daycare center will enable low-income parents to seek jobs, knowing that their children are safe and well cared for. In total, this center for community development will boast:
51 Units of affordable housing;
a 10,500 SF daycare facility; and
a 6,000 SF HCCI new central office
2) Implementing the Bradhurst Brownfield Opportunity Strategy calls for the development of a strategic land use plan to address northern Harlem between 139th and 163rd Streets, Harlem to Hudson Rivers, and specifically the area from St. Nicholas Avenue to the Harlem River and 145th to 159th Streets. The primary goals of the study were to improve physical connections, assess the business needs in the area, review the zoning to determine how to best implement a diverse mix of uses that incorporate environmentally friendly design, and to develop a plan for reinvigorating the area under the 155th Street viaduct by turning it into a community focal point, instead of a barrier.
3) Successful implementation of the NYC Small Business Services Avenue NYC grant and strategies to bolster key commercial corridors within the Bradhurst community with a focus on parts of 145th Street, Frederick Douglass Boulevard. These plans include streetscape improvements, business attraction and branded marketing of emerging corridors. Key areas of focus under the Avenue NYC grant include: Development of the Bradhurt Merchants Association (BMA) – which HCCI established and is currently comprised of 50 Bradhurst-area businesses; Business Attraction – between 2008 and 2013, HCCI catalogued the area’s vacancy rate and successfully marketed the area attracting 25 new businesses to the Bradhust community; and Creating a Business Improvement District along the 145th Street Corridor, which currently underway.
4) Increasing earned income projects by extending our service footprint beyond Harlem. HCCI will offer its holistic community development expertise to communities and agencies nationwide. We will also pursuing marketing, management and project management contracts as well as increase commercial and community space rentals.
Completing these four core activities will position HCCI and the Bradhurst community to benefit from increased economic vitality, laying the groundwork for a future that is brightened by economic freedom and independence.