Rendering of the Bedford Courts development planned for the Bedford-Union Armory; image: BFC Partners/Bedford Courts
Amid growing opposition, the proposed Crown Heights Bedford-Union Armory redevelopment project began its evaluation by the City Council at a hearing Tuesday on land use applications filed by the Economic Development Corporation (EDC), amNewYork reports. The massive armory, once housing for the National Guard, became city property in 2013. The EDC plans to sell the property to developer BFC Partners for the creation of 56 condos, of which 20 percent would be income restricted. The remaining market rate condos would help pay for the rest of the project, which would be leased by BFC Partners and would include 330 rentals (165 affordable), office space and a recreation center. Critics say the city is setting a dangerous precedent by leasing public land for private use, especially when market-rate condos are included. The de Blasio administration has championed the recreation center and housing, but the plan has has come under fire by neighborhood advocacy groups and has had an uphill battle in achieving the City Council approval it needs.
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Rendering via Think Architecture and Design
Facing an unprecedented homelessness problem, in February, Mayor de Blasio announced plans to open 90 new shelters and expand 30 existing ones. But when it came down to which neighborhoods would house the developments, it became a not-in-my-backyard issue, especially in Crown Heights, an area already heavy with shelters and transitional houses, where the Mayor said three of the first five projects would be built. The animosity intensified shortly thereafter when it was announced that one such shelter would open in a new building at 267 Rogers Avenue, originally planned as a condo. But despite opposition from local residents and a temporary restraining order, the building began welcoming tenants over the summer, with space for 132 homeless families and another 33 units reserved for low-income New Yorkers. The latter, set aside for those earning 60 percent of the area median income, are now available through the city’s affordable housing lottery and range from $931/month one-bedrooms to $1,292/month three-bedrooms.
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Park Avenue Armory, image © PBDW Architects
Constructed between the 18th and 20th centuries to resemble massive European fortresses and serve as headquarters, housing, and arms storage for state volunteer militia, most of America’s armories that stand today had shed their military affiliations by the later part of the 20th century. Though a number of them did not survive, many of New York City’s historic armories still stand. While some remain in a state of limbo–a recent setback in the redevelopment plans of Brooklyn’s controversial Bedford-Union Armory in Crown Heights raises a familiar battle cry–the ways in which they’ve adapted to the city’s rollercoaster of change are as diverse as the neighborhoods that surround them.
Find out how the city’s armories have fared
Like most things in New York, creative communities come and ago as new development and rising rents force artists to move on to the next best, or cheaper neighborhood. While 6sqft found ‘hoods like the Upper East Side, Harlem and Long Island City to be the best places for artists a few years back, we’ve updated our top-10 list to reflect the changing times. Ahead you’ll find some areas you may expect–Sunset Park and Bushwick, for example, along with more up-and-coming artsy enclaves like Newark, Washington Heights, and the South Bronx.
The full list right this way
Thirty feet below street level, Benton Brown and Susan Boyle of Crown Finish Caves age their deliciously moldy wares in the lagering tunnels of a former brewery beneath the Monti Building in Crown Heights, where 26,000 pounds of cheese ripens to perfection in one of the facility’s 15-foot-high brick tunnels. This weekend Crown Finish is opening up one of the unused former brewery tunnels, seldom seen by the public, to host a cheese-and-wine tasting event to benefit the expansion efforts of Maple Street School, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens’ cooperative preschool (h/t DNAInfo).
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Governor Cuomo announced a $1.4 billion initiative last week to bring resources like health care services and new jobs to Central Brooklyn. According to the governor, the plan, called “Vital Brooklyn,” will bring 7,600 jobs and more than 3,000 new affordable housing units to Brownsville, East New York, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights. And while Cuomo’s administration found these neighborhoods to be some of the most disadvantaged in the state, residents worry about the possible gentrification and displacement effects (h/t NY Times).
Learn more about Vital Brooklyn here
It’s been over two years since ODA Architects first released a rendering of their rental project at 1040 Dean Street (formerly 608 Franklin Avenue) in Crown Heights. Featuring the firm’s signature glassy, boxy aesthetic, the eight-story, 133,582-square-foot project rose on part of the site of the shuttered Nassau Brewery, just a block away from hot-spot food hall Berg’n. Of its 120 units, 20 percent will be reserved for those earning no more than 60 percent of the area media income, and starting tomorrow, qualifying New Yorkers can apply to these affordable units, ranging from $845/month studios to $1,022 two-bedrooms.
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Google Earth rendering created by CityRealty; Image depicts the massing of the proposed buildings, not the design
Crown Heights is a neighborhood undergoing rapid change, but the western area south of Eastern Parkway has remained relatively quiet and unaltered by new development. However, it appears that could soon change. As The Real Deal reports, Cornell Realty Management is hoping to rezone two parcels at 40 Crown Street and 931 Carroll Street, just one block from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, to make way for a pair of towers that would house more than 500 residential units.
Even before it opened its doors, the new tavern on Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights was under attack. The name of the place, Crow Bar, was racist, complained many residents of the neighborhood, which was once predominantly black. The residents point out that Crown Heights was known as “Crow Hill” for much of the 19th century, and that the word “crow” was used as a derogatory name for black residents who lived in the area. The controversy over the bar, which opened on September 19, has also served to underscore recent tensions related to the continuing gentrification of the area.
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Several years ago, plans were revealed for CAMBA Gardens, an affordable housing complex set to rise on the campus of the Kings County Hospital, located on the border of Crown Heights and East Flatbush. The buildings were constructed by the city’s Supportive Housing Loan Program in conjunction with non-profit CAMBA, which provides employment, education, health, legal, social, business development, and youth services to New Yorkers.
CAMBA Gardens I opened in the fall of 2013 with 209 residences spread across two buildings. Now, a lottery for CAMBA Gardens Phase II has just come online and is offering 110 newly constructed units in the LEED Gold building for individuals earning 60 percent of the AMI. These range from $822/month studios to $1,228/month three-bedrooms for households earning between $29,692 and $63,060 annually.
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