In partnership with

South Bronx Unite

Community Collaborators

New York City Community Land Initiative and Mott Haven-Port Morris Community Land Stewards

Project Area: The Bronx

Photo: Community Envisioning Session facilitated by South Bronx Unite in collaboration with Professor Nandini Bagchee and the Spitzer School of Architecture Students, CCNY, CUNY.

The South Bronx is home to a diverse community of committed residents, activists, artists and thinkers with exceptional resourcefulness and ingenuity who sustained the area through decades of environmental injustice and economic neglect.

The industrial waterfront community of Mott Haven-Port Morris in the South Bronx faces asthma rates eight times the national average. 38% of the area’s residents and 49% of its children live in poverty, with an average median income of $19,454 – the lowest in the state – and an unemployment rate more than three times the national rate.

Now a wave of real estate speculation, including 12 market rate rentals and six hotels, aims to bring thousands of luxury residential units to Mott Haven-Port Morris. 

Building on a deep legacy of community organizing roots, Power in Place will ensure that area residents and local organizations have a place to continue to live and work in the area; a voice in the planning process; a means to develop financial equity; and the tools to advocate for and initiate a healthy and sustainable development for their neighborhoods. South Bronx Unite and Design Trust for Public Space will explore the potential of the Community Land Trust as a model for equitable public space in Mott Haven-Port Morris.

A Community Land Trust (“CLT”) is a nonprofit, community-based and -managed organization model that acquires and holds land in perpetuity to preserve long-term availability and affordability of housing as well as cultural, social, artistic, health, and educational venues.


On April 26, 2017, Design Trust for Public Space issued an open call for project ideas, Public for All: Rethinking Shared Space in NYC, seeking innovative ideas for creating more accessible, resourceful public spaces across the five boroughs and sustainable systems for their operation, maintenance, and programming.

On July 13, 2017, an independent jury selected the proposal by South Bronx Unite to partner with Design Trust in developing Power in Place: Building Community Wealth and Well-Being in Mott Haven-Port Morris. Learn more about the selection process. Watch the jury discussion.


Power in Place will make the case for community-prioritized use of land by creating a community-driven plan, map, and communication toolkit to achieve community-desired outcomes.

A team of Fellows, working closely with community members, South Bronx Unite, and Design Trust, will coordinate efforts to identify opportunities for the creation and use of public space, develop a plan to unlock those opportunities along shared goals, and communicate the resulting plan – and its potential as a model that can be used by others – to the community and public at large including policymakers and city agencies.

The Fellows team, comprising expertise in mapping, community planning, and participatory design have begun the project activities in February 2018 and will work throughout the course of approximately one year. Together we will:
  • Engage the local community and stakeholders through interviews, workshops, public forums, and formal and informal meetings to identify assets, calibrate additional needs and desires, and understand opportunities, constraints, and requirements for the disposition of real properties to a Community Land Trust.
  • Build a communication toolkit that serves as an advocacy and educational tool about the Community Land Trust model; and to share the engagement, planning and empowerment process and its potential as a model that can be implemented by other communities.
  • Create a mapping framework embedded with a suite of maps to present physical, demographic, social, economic, health and environmental characteristics of the area, and also intangible elements such as stories, arts, activism, and memory. This will help us identify opportunities, constraints, and requirements for the creation and use of public space.
  • Develop a community-driven plan that utilizes the Community Land Trust model and incorporates the myriad of existing plans to create new and strengthen existing public space.

Key Milestones

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Conduct Request for Proposals

July 2017

An independent jury selected the proposal by South Bronx Unite to partner with Design Trust. Watch the selection process.

Photo: Sam Lahoz

Finalize scope

October 2017

We identified our goals and needs, and issued a call for Fellows to lead the project.

Photo: Ozgur Gungor

Kick-off with the community

December 2017

We kicked off Power in Place with an open house and celebration of live music by local music education center UpBeat NYC.

Photo: Design Trust for Public Space

Assemble the Fellows team

February 2018

We announced a team of Fellows with expertise in mapping, community planning, and participatory design.