Crown Heights

Crown Heights pols: Make new housing in Bedford-Union Armory all affordable, all the time

Elected Officials also say local residents should get preference for most apartments

October 18, 2016 By James Harney Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Bedford-Union Armory in Crown Heights Eagle file photo by Lore Croghan
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They want it all. All affordable, that is.

That’s the message that was conveyed in a letter sent this week by four Crown Heights politicians to the head of the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) regarding the contentious redevelopment of the city-owned Bedford-Union Armory.

In their letter to EDC President Maria Torres-Springer, U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke, state Sen. Jesse Hamilton and state Assemblymembers Diana Richardson and Walter Mosley urged that all 300 planned new apartments in the redeveloped armory — not just 150, as proposed by developers — be offered at below market-rate prices.

“We write to request your assurance that the community’s voice is both heard and acted upon to create the best project possible at the Bedford-Union Armory,” the letter read in part. “Public land is a scarce resource in New York City, and we only have one chance to get this project right.”

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Noting that the Crown Heights neighborhood “is one of the hardest hit by gentrification in New York City, and as we struggle with a record-high number of homeless families (approximately 60,000 people, including more than 23,000 children, in shelters),” the pols said their “main concern with the project as proposed is that it doesn’t adequately reflect the needs of the average family residing in and around Community Board 9.

“The Bedford-Union Armory is a rare public site where the City has the opportunity to build 100 percent affordable housing,” the letter continued. “In order to accommodate this affordable housing, the EDC should use NYC affordable housing program subsidies at the proposed development sites.”

The pols also called on the city to raise the percentage of affordable housing in the redeveloped armory that is slated to be offered first to Board 9-area residents from 50 percent to 80 percent. They added that “no more than 40 percent of the total rental units developed on site” should be one-bedroom and studio apartments, “with the remaining units equally divided between two- and three-bedroom units.”

The quartet of elected officials wrote that they “stand resolutely with our constituents who will not support this project until changes are made that act upon the above-mentioned concerns.”

In a follow-up statement, Clarke said: “The development of the Bedford-Union Armory must benefit the greater community of Crown Heights … with affordable housing prices set aside for the neighborhood, with programs that provide opportunities and institutions to benefit children and families, and economic opportunities for local entrepreneurs with good jobs available to directly support individuals in the neighborhood who are looking for work.”

Controversy has swirled around the redevelopment project at the massive, 138,000-square-foot armory at 1579 Bedford-Union Armory almost since it was announced.

Originally, the site was to be redeveloped by BFC Partners and Slate Property Group.

But Slate pulled out of the project after the firm was accused of conspiring to cover up plans to redevelop the former Rivington House nursing home on the Lower East Side into luxury housing until the city lifted a restriction mandating that the property be used solely for health care purposes.

And New York Knicks star forward Carmelo Anthony’s foundation, which had backed a recreational facility proposed for the redeveloped armory site, pulled out of the deal in the face of pressure from community groups.

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