Crown Heights

Councilmember Cumbo, officials, come out against Bedford-Union Armory project

May 19, 2017 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Councilmember Laurie Cumbo stands with (left to right) Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Councilmember Jumaane Williams, Assemblymember Walter Mosley, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James as she announces her opposition to the proposed Bedford-Union Armory development. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

At Brooklyn Borough Hall on Thursday afternoon, city Councilmember Laurie Cumbo announced her opposition to the proposed Bedford-Union Armory development in Crown Heights.

The controversial development is backed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, and opponents have been pushing for Cumbo to come out against it. 

“I stand before you today to say ‘no’ to the proposed Bedford-Union Armory development that is being certified by the de Blasio administration and the BFC Partners on May 22 that does not have the support of local elected officials or the community,” she said.

The project, which would include office space and a sports complex, along with affordable and market-rate rentals and condos, has been subject of numerous protests from residents pushing for more low-income housing.

Crown Heights is one of the hardest hit by gentrification in the city, with a record-high number of homeless families, officials have said.

Cumbo was joined by a host of city officials including Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Assemblymember Walter Mosley and Councilmember Jumaane Williams.

The de Blasio administration’s certification on Monday starts the ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) approval process. The officials, however, said they would withhold capital funding until a project was delivered that better served the needs of the community.

 “Since the very beginning our message has been clear: We will not allow public land to be used for the purpose of luxury condominiums,” Cumbo said. “The fact that we delivered this position to the developer prior to the presentation of this plan is an insult to the Crown Heights community,” she said, adding that the mayor should “go back to the drawing board” to find a new developer.

 

Can’t Afford Affordable Apartments

“The proposed redevelopment is not sufficient to meet the needs of Crown Heights, namely the dearth of affordable housing for residents at risk of losing the community they love,” BP Adams said. “I’m willing to put my capital dollars into this project to ensure that we can find a way to have affordable.”

Adams also called for 100 percent union built, as long as the unions took in locals seeking to find work.

Under the city’s proposal, 50 percent of the of the building’s 330 apartments in the project would be affordable (165 apartments.) The project would also include 56 condos, 44 of them selling at market rates, plus the recreation center. 

Opponents say that the majority of Crown Heights residents can’t afford the apartments.

“I’m really happy that all of these politicians finally came out and said no, which is what we’ve been trying to get them to do for a long time. I’m also happy that they pointed to the real culprit, who is the mayor,” community activist Bertha Lewis told the Brooklyn Eagle. 

“I feel as though Laurie Cumbo has tried, and has done her best — and in a way, was naïve,” Lewis said. “Because Laurie Cumbo was betrayed by this mayor and betrayed by BFC developers. And as long as BFC developer is still being spoken to as if they are the developers, nothing will change. They need to go. That’s the first thing that needs to happen.”

According to a spokesman for the developer, Crown Heights faith leaders, residents and 32BJ union members will rally this Sunday in support of the city’s plan to develop the Armory.