Every community should have an opportunity to develop a collective vision to shape its future. Often, the process of urban redevelopment can be polarizing, with community stakeholders and private developers entrenched in opposition and design professionals acting as an ally to one or as a mediator between both. Bridging the Divide reveals a better model, one where invested, long-term community stakeholders, private developers, and design professionals work collaboratively towards a common vision for their built environment with lasting impacts on the economic stability and social cohesion of neighborhoods.

Spanning eight city blocks on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Essex Crossing is among the largest redevelopment projects ever attempted in New York City. Building Socially Sustainable Communities presents a new vision for creating sustainable urban neighborhoods and invites design professionals to use the partnership model established at Essex Crossing as a tool for enacting positive change within their own communities. Through a film screening and panel discussion, the program will explore the fifty-year evolution of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) and the realization of Essex Crossing to illustrate how a unique collaboration between community groups and seven development partners was leveraged to create an equitable and inclusive model for mixed-income housing while facilitating a more socially responsible approach to commercial development and honoring the cultural heritage of the neighborhood through the extension of its landmark marketplace.