Let’s work together

One of Long Island’s oldest African-American communities, New Cassel in the Town of North Hempstead is in the midst of a rebirth that has brought millions of dollars in private real estate development to its downtown. In the 1990s, the prospect of revitalization was met with some resistance arising from decades of broken promises, but after years of community outreach and organization, the community mobilized.

NC1Along with the Unified New Cassel Community Revitalization Corporation, Sustainable Long Island facilitated the community planning process, “Seeking a Shared Vision for New Cassel,” which was held in 2002. Nearly 1,000 residents and business owners participated in the visioning, developing a comprehensive plan detailing their hopes for the future of New Cassel. Formally adopted a year later, the plan set forth strategies to achieve major progress over the next decade including the groundbreaking of the hamlet’s first bank, pharmacy, and supermarket along Prospect Avenue.

Buildings were constructed, businesses opened their doors, and apartments became homes, including a hair salon, a dental office, and a three story, 36 unit complex hailed as an affordable housing option. Streetscaping efforts and improvements intended to slow down traffic and improve safety have been implemented. In addition, new wider sidewalks, old-fashioned lighting, and outdoor seating lines the streets – turning New Cassel into the walkable community it always envisioned itself as.

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In 2012, a state-of-the-art community center opened with a fitness center, game room, and dance and television studios. The 60,000 square foot facility, originally identified as a major community need during the 2002 planning process, is among the most energy-efficient buildings in New York State with roof-top solar panels, grade-level solar trees, electric vehicle recharging stations, permeable pavement, native plantings to reduce water consumption, and geothermal heating and cooling.

Sustainable Long Island also commissioned a study from Hofstra’s Center for Suburban Studies to track the successes, challenges, and lessons learned from the revitalization process. The study shows key factors in the revival of New Cassel include a broad range of constituents; affordable housing property developers and small business owners willing to invest; and ongoing support from community groups, government officials, and local stakeholders and leaders.

New Cassel Monograph