A megachurch in East New York will become an ‘urban village’ with 2,100 affordable apartments

December 11, 2018

Via Practice for Architecture and Urbanism

A Christian megachurch in East New York is partnering with the Gotham Organization to redevelop their East New York campus into a mixed-income community, or “urban village” as Reverend A.R. Bernard calls it, of 2,100 affordable units and neighborhood amenities. The plan from the Christian Cultural Center, led by Bernard, will supplement the existing church at 12020 Flatlands Avenue in Brooklyn and create a community with CCC at its core.

Under the leadership of Rev. Bernard since 1978, CCC has become the largest house of worship in New York City with 45,000 congregants. It is known for creating outreach programs that support the greater Brooklyn community, including a food pantry, prison ministry, charter school and educational partnerships with the NYPD.

The site will become a model for sustainable urban development, “showing how a mixed-income community can grow sustainably, phased over time, with the right mix of support services, education, cultural institutions and shared public spaces,” Bernard said in a statement.

“The mindset in inner-city conditions is doing everything you can to get out and not come back,” Bernard told The Times. “Here you’re talking about, ‘Wow. I want to stay. I want to experience this community. There’s future. There’s hope.”

The project’s master plan was designed by architect Vishaan Chakrabarti and his firm Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU). It repurposes a parking lot into a comprehensive design vision. The plan includes a vocational training facility and a performing arts center that will be open to the East New York community at large.

In addition to 2,100 income-based affordable housing units, the plan also creates dedicated housing for seniors and a senior center, 24-hour childcare facilities, a grocery store, retail space, walk-in medical services, athletic space, and more than two acres of open public space. The campus will also include a shuttle service that brings residents to the nearby L-and 3-train lines.

“When we traditionally think about infrastructure, it’s transportation and utilities. Today, we know that for a community to succeed it needs access to a broader infrastructure of opportunity – open space, education, health care, child care, social opportunities and culture,” Chakrabarti said in a statement. “Each of these things is considered in the plan that we have prepared with Gotham to advance Rev. Bernard’s vision for a sustainable and equitable community.”

The development — which is not slated to break ground until the middle of 2020, pending the city’s public review process — will be one of the most ambitious projects in the East New York neighborhood, which was among the first to be rezoned in 2016 under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to promote affordable housing and economic development.

The area has one of the largest proportions of homeless families in the city and a median household income of $34,512. Some question whether the development can truly provide affordable housing for the area, or whether it will serve to entice developers to come into the area with luxury and market-rate units.

Andre T. Mitchell, the chairman of Community Board 5 in Brooklyn has expressed optimism and gratitude that the developers met with him early in the process. “As a board, we understand that East New York is the new ground zero of all these new developments,” he told The Times. “There is still a lot of apprehension in the community. Often we hear one thing and it’s something else that’s done…We have to make sure that promises made are kept.”


Images via Practice for Architecture and Urbanism

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