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‘Rethink Bayonne’ aims to encourage better development

The registration period closes on Nov. 13

'Rethink Bayonne' encourages entrants to start from scratch.

Feeling left out of the redevelopment boom in Bayonne? Enter a new design competition titled “Rethink Bayonne.”

In an interview with the Bayonne Community News, cofounders Paul Garcia and Alex Last outlined their vision.

“We want to make homeowners a part of the urban development process,” Garcia said. “We like to call it democratized urban development.”

The problem

“We have a situation where we have funds shaping cities rather than the people that live in them,” Garcia said.

This leads to gentrification, room shares in places they shouldn’t be, and a reduction in the quality of life, according to Garcia.

Most areas in the city are not ready for the influx of new residents, according to Garcia. Parts of downtown have been left out of the conversation on urban development.

The average home in the area is 70 years old. Building inefficiency and parking are problems.

A new idea

It all started months ago before the pandemic, with the idea for a “Kickstarter for real estate.”

Kickstarter is a funding platform where people can donate to make creative projects a reality.

According to Garcia, the “Kickstarter for real estate” would explore what it means when people come together to finance construction.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they began to conceptualize how they would create content during the stay-at-home order. That led them to a design competition.

The challenge is to design a new quality of life for Bayonne residents. Participants are urged to ignore what exists and start from scratch. The more creative the better.

The competition

The registration period closes on Nov. 13. This is the first of three phases of the competition.

On Nov. 13, entrants are separated into teams. From Nov. 14 to 15, teams will work on innovative designs that will inspire residents to build.

Teams will be given architectural specifications and guidelines.

The deadline is Jan. 20. The teams will present their designs to judges, locals, and anyone interested, using various online platforms.

The competition ends on Jan. 22, when judges determine the winners.

Connecting stakeholders

An event will feature three days of ceremonies, keynote speakers, which will be streamed using a combination of Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.

The competition will feature industry leaders who will speak on topics such as sustainability and quality of life. The panel and judges will include experienced professionals, community leaders, and city officials.

Rethink Bayonne has collaborated with the Stevens Institute of Technology (SIT) to “leverage their networks in order to maximize the results.” SIT agreed to provide speakers and judges, and will help facilitate much of the construction.

The competition has also collaborated with the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), which will provide speakers and judges. The competition allows architecture and design students from both schools to compete.

These students often design buildings that will never be built. Garcia said the competition aims to end that. Rethink Bayonne will collaborate with these schools to include elements of the design competition in their curriculums, eliminating the need for a second competition.

Prizes and exposure

Entrants will compete for prizes and meet potential employers. Even if a design does not win, the competition will showcase it to potential buyers and help entrants monetize their designs.

Participants will meet with talented creators and network with investors, real estate professionals, builders, and home shoppers. This can lead to business partnerships beyond the event.

The cofounders describe the competition as an “online network for home shopping.”

Rethink Bayonne will work with homeowners or anybody interested in selling land to get the designs built. During the event, residents can comment on the designs.

For more information or to register for the competition, go to https://www.rethinkurban.design/bayonne.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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