What destroys the aesthetic of a community is vacant space. A vacuum of people and commerce isn’t inviting, warm or welcoming and won’t bring tenants, buyers and visitors into a community.
Throughout Brooklyn and Queens, there is plenty of unused space. Old train yards, vacant lots adjacent to abandoned industrial properties and scarcely populated streets can be a breeding ground for crime or illicit activity.
It’s not that this emptiness exists to create green space; it’s just unused space, just an eyesore. The city needs to make the filling of these spaces, with parks, playgrounds or positive community institutions – like the ReNew Lots project – a major priority.
The positives are infinite. On top of beautifying a place in these neighborhoods, it creates a destination. It brings money from outside the community into it, if commerce is integrated into any project in a successful manner.
It also creates an opportunity for the kids of the neighborhoods. In a project like the artists incubators in New Lots, kids get a chance to connect with working artists. It shows them a career path that they may have not previously thought about and it gives them a chance to learn about arts and culture outside of schools.
In New Lots, the commerce is right next to the arts and can draw people in from around the city. It brings an economic investment into the community, on top of being a positive for the kids.
Creating safe, fun places for an entire community should always be a priority of any administration. With all of the vacant spaces throughout the outer boroughs, this is a massive opportunity that this current administration should not waste.