Harlem’s 125th Street has historically been viewed as one of the great streets in New York City. It was mapped in the original 1811 street plan of New York City and it now extends from First Avenue on the east to the Hudson River on the west. The American Planning Association selected 125th Street as one of 10 Great Streets in America in 2007 because “it has managed to maintain a strong identity through periods of tremendous population growth and infrastructural strain, disinvestment, and urban renewal.” In the last decades, it has again been recognized as “Harlem’s Main Street" — a major transportation artery; a place of connectivity of major subways, buses and highways; a premier cultural, arts and entertainment center; a mixture of architectural buildings from tenements to warehouses to early office buildings and new modern structures; a business district of older retail and commercial establishments; and a developing area for technology, education and innovative enterprises. The street has gone through ups and downs but 125th Street continues to find its way to shape its future physical, social and economic environment so that its recognized identity and vitality can continue.
The Capstone Workshop is designed to support the development of 125th Street by highlighting retail commercial and development opportunities. It will assist the 125th Street BID in their work with developers, investors, retailers, and the City of New York to develop policy, programming, and planning initiatives to retain and attract retailers that build on and enhance the cultural experience of Harlem. The Capstone team will examine trends and patterns, current consumer demand, and the current supply side will aid in identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The findings will be used for recommending immediate and ongoing, short term, and medium to long term actions steps that are required to create a consistent commercial redevelopment program west of Morningside Avenue.