Pratt Center Project

Sustainable Community Development

Church Avenue Retail Project

In partnership with local small businesses, Pratt Center conducted a retail market study and needs assessment to strengthen the Church Avenue commercial strip.

The Church Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) retained Pratt Center to conduct a retail market study and needs assessment with the goal of making sure the already successful retail strip – the shopping hub of Flatbush -- better serves a neighborhood where the poor and middle class live side by side.

The project, surveying the strip from Coney Island Avenue to Flatbush Avenue, looked at what shoppers and residents purchase on Church Avenue and elsewhere. The project examined Church Avenue's mix of retail and the quality of goods of and services offered. In addition, using a survey developed in partnership with the Pratt Center, the BID asked merchants what challenges they face in striving to operate successful businesses on Church Avenue.

Residents' needs were assessed through demographic analysis, gathering information about the customer base and offerings of competing shopping districts, and extensive community outreach efforts. With Pratt Center's help, the BID surveyed local shoppers and residents about where they shop, what they buy, what they like about Church Avenue, and what they think is missing or could be improved upon. Local store owners were also given surveys that asked about what they sell, what difficulties they face as merchants, and what physical improvements they'd like to see along the retail corridor.

Through this investigation, Pratt Center expected to help the BID get answers to important questions: Does the selection of goods on Church Avenue meet neighborhood needs; are there too many or too few of certain types of retailers? Is the quality of grocery items and other goods sufficient? Can the addition of amenities, such as benches and sit-down restaurants, improve shoppers' experience? Can a strip of vacant storefronts be put to good use?

Michael Berne of MJB Consulting, one of the nation's foremost experts in promoting diverse inner-city retail, also worked on the project. Berne’s role involved analyzing data on the area's retail potential. This included information on shoppers' incomes and buying habits, information about shopping districts that compete with Church Avenue for business, and unmet needs in the area.

Read the resulting study here.