The 125th Street District Management Association manages the 125th Street Business Improvement District.  Over the last few decades, 125th Street in Harlem has undergone considerable transformation. As a result, it is becoming increasingly recognized as a successful retailer corridor. However, the unique advantage that 125th Street has over similar retail strips is its deep connection to African-American and African diaspora cultures. As 125th Street evolves, the team found that culture could be a common denominator between businesses that call the street home. Should culture serve as a unifier, it could be possible to avoid what is often at risk when a street undergoes change—becoming generic.

Through exploring case studies and conducting interviews with local stakeholders, the team laid out a tentative roadmap for 125th Street to embrace its cultural identity despite ongoing development. The three elements that are critical for 125th are:

  • 125th Street’s history needs to be clear, accessible and of critical mass;
  • 125th Street must be a dynamic area and reflective of the culture—it must be current;
  • 125th Street needs to be marketed so people are aware of its status as a cultural corridor.

The presentation delivered to the client includes specific recommendations that fall under the three above-mentioned elements. The Capstone team found that 125th Street and the surrounding community can embrace change and leverage its stronghold as a retail corridor, while also remaining a special cultural corridor that will attract New Yorkers and people from around the world.