BELA Summer Business Academy students reinvent the Walnut Street neighborhood

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BELA Cohort 2 students, joined by BELA Executive Director Kevin Richberg, Edwin Feliciano and his wife Mimi, and Iain Kerr, MIX Lab Co-Director and Innovation Design Instructor.

Montclair, NJ – Each summer, students attending the Business & Entrepreneurial Learning Academy (BELA) Summer Business Academy, a summer enrichment program designed for students in grades 9-12 interested in the world of business and entrepreneurship, tackle a stimulating new project with a local focus. Kevin Richberg, BELA Executive Director and CEO, Iain Kerr, MIX Lab Co-Director and Innovation Design Instructor, and other BELA faculty create a unique curriculum paired with a real business case study in their field. Last year, students took a fresh look at Lackawanna Plaza. This year, BELA students explored and devised new ideas to enliven and enhance the Walnut Street neighborhood of Montclair.

BELA Cohort 2 students, joined by BELA Executive Director Kevin Richberg, Edwin Feliciano and his wife Mimi, and Iain Kerr, MIX Lab Co-Director and Innovation Design Instructor.

Students reviewed buildings in the area, including those recently reviewed by the Montclair Planning Board. The students came up with their own creative ideas for the former Richie Cecere’s restaurant and the historic Mill Building, including creating a pedestrian-only zone. The reopening and revitalization of the former Trumpets Concert Hall was also important for the students. One group wanted to transform the former Trompettes space into an amphitheater and add a terminal with a rooftop bar to the existing station.

Some of the ideas presented by the students of Group 1 Cohort 1.

Cycling, greenery and renewable energy figured prominently in the presentations, as did affordable housing and inclusiveness. One group wanted to create a social justice center and turn Erie Park into a sculpture park; another recommended a creek filtration system as a water source for a fountain that would also help prevent flooding in the area.

BELA students present concepts for a redesigned Walnut Street neighborhood.

“The student projects were inspired by the nature and history of the abandoned factory district of Montclair,” said local architect and historian Frank Gerard Godlewski. “Their projects were phenomenal! This shows that Montclair is not an area to be redeveloped, but an area that needs to be creatively redeveloped.

Learn more about BELA here.

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