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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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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The building itself, designed by Issac & Stern Architects, may be pretty unremarkable, the same for the block on which it’s located, but 505 Saint Mark’s Avenue is in a prime Crown Heights location and offers some great amenities. It has 147 brand new units and is just steps off foodie haven Franklin Avenue and right around the corner from trendy food/beer hall Berg’n.
While the market-rate apartments are pretty par for the course (a one-bedroom goes for about $2,500/month and a two-bedroom for around $3,600), a housing lottery has launched today for 30 affordable units, including $913 one-bedrooms and $1,065 two-bedrooms for individuals and households earning between $31,303 and $51,780 annually.
Find out if you qualify here
The definition of gentrification may be difficult to pin down, but filmmaker Nelson George is attempting to do so in his five-minute short “Degentrify America.” In the film, George melds together national headlines with interviews and animation to paint a picture that has become all too familiar in metropolitan areas across the country. Most notable, however, is the appearance of Crown Heights resident and co-founder of the Crown Heights Tenants Union, Donna Mossman, who speaks candidly about the evictions, injustice and other ills that come with this particular kind of change. Crown Heights recently ranked #8 on NYU’s Furman Center‘s report of New York’s 15 fastest gentrifying neighborhoods.
Watch the short film here
Brooklyn resident Miko Mercer, 30, joined the Tiny House Movement, and she’s done more than just take a passing interest. The New York Times recently visited Ms. Mercer and the 160-square-foot DIY dwelling she’s constructing, not on a homesteader’s plot, but inside a big Crown Heights warehouse. Mercer, who runs the skin care division at popular beauty subscription service Birchbox and draws a six-figure income, still found that, as a single person, she couldn’t afford to buy a home in a city where the average price of an apartment is $1.7 million.
She ordered a trailer bed, leased the warehouse space and got to work, designing the house herself using a 3-D modeling application called Sketchup, meticulously managing the budget using a spreadsheet. She puts the estimated cost of her tiny house at about $30,000.
Find out what’s in the plans for this tiny home