Prototype for Entrepreneurial Empowerment

The New York City Department of Transportation reached out to ORE to develop a pilot retail prototype for their EL-Space program.

The first of a proposed 2,800 vendor kiosks citywide, the El-box uses repurposed shipping containers for their strengths of mobility, prefabrication, and economy. Each El-box is designed on a minimal budget ($20,000 per NYCDOT design criteria) to activate dark, empty areas underneath elevated infrastructure with retail and food vending activity.

ORE created a universal box design for both food and retail vendors.  Each El-box includes lockable glass storefront doors (secured at night behind existing container doors), a lockable large tilt-up service window on gas pistons, and aimable, exterior lighting that can flood dark underpasses making them more secure. ORE created a plug and play electrical system using marine components when boats are moored. The El-box comes fully prefabricated with building grade insulation, ceiling mounted heating and cooling, and is fully electrified to receive retail or food vendors. For more information on joining the El-box program, please reach out to

The space beneath and adjacent to elevated transportation infrastructure, including above-ground subways, bridges, and highways, is called “El-Space.” The NYCDOT is studying, evaluating and testing new treatments as well as identifying methods to manage these spaces to improve access, mobility, safety and connectivity.

There are approximately 300 linear miles of El-Space citywide. Some El-Space is characterized by active pedestrian and vehicular corridors. Other areas, however, are dark and underutilized and marked by conditions where pedestrians need to sidestep stormwater runoff and experience intensified train and vehicular noises. As land uses change and the population of New York City increases, demand for these locations also increases. NYCDOT is taking a closer look at El-Space citywide to assess its potential for future growth with enhanced streetscapes and new public space.

Client: New York City Department of Transportation
Location: Prototype is currently under the southwest end of Brooklyn Bridge
Program: Food and Retail Prototype