BELA Summer Business Academy Students Reimagine Walnut Street Area

BELA students from Cohort 2, joined by BELA executive director Kevin Richberg, Edwin Feliciano and wife Mimi, and Iain Kerr, the co-director of MIX Lab and Instructor of Innovation Design..

Montclair, NJ – Every summer, students participating in The Business & Entrepreneurial Learning Academy’s (BELA) Summer Business Academy, a summer enrichment program designed for rising 9th – 12th graders interested in the world of business and entrepreneurship, tackle a challenging new project with a local focus. Kevin Richberg, the BELA executive director and CEO, Iain Kerr, the co-director of MIX Lab and Instructor of Innovation Design, and other BELA professors create a unique curriculum associated with a real life business case study in their area. Last year, students took a fresh look at Lackawanna Plaza. This year, BELA students explored and conceived of new ideas to enliven and improve Montclair’s Walnut Street neighborhood.

BELA students from Cohort 2, joined by BELA executive director Kevin Richberg, Edwin Feliciano and wife Mimi, and Iain Kerr, the co-director of MIX Lab and Instructor of Innovation Design..

The students looked at buildings in the area, including those that were recently reviewed by the Montclair Planning Board. Students had their own creative ideas for the former Richie Cecere’s restaurant and the historic Mill Building, including create a pedestrian only area. Reopening and revitalizing the former Trumpets music venue was also important to students. One group wanted to transform the former Trumpets space into an amphitheater and add a terminal with a rooftop bar to the existing train station.

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

Biking, greenery and renewable energy figured prominently in the presentations as did affordable housing and inclusivity. 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 with flooding in the area.

BELA students presenting concepts for a reimagined Walnut Street neighborhood.

“The students’ projects were inspired by the nature and the history of Montclair’s abandoned mill district,” said architect and local historian Frank Gerard Godlewski. “Their projects were phenomenal! It goes to show that Montclair is not an area in need of redevelopment, but an area that needs to redevelop with creativity.”

Learn more about BELA here.

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