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.
The Bedford-Union Armory, Wiki Commons
Though no decision was made at the hearing, the city says it may block the inclusion of the luxury units; the EDC has promised to reevaluate the controversial plan. A leading voice of the opposition has been recently re-elected Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo (D-Brooklyn) who has focused on the 40+ market rate condos slated for the site, saying that not enough affordable housing is being offered to the rapidly-gentrifying neighborhood. “I oppose the proposal that is in front of us today,” she said. “I will reject this application unless I can secure a project that at baseline has no market rate condos or luxury condos.”
Legal Aid Society attorney Judith Goldiner said the project does little for neighborhood residents who are suffering from the effects of gentrification, including rising rents.“Land that is fully owned by the public should serve an exclusive public purpose,” Goldiner said.
Even if the subcommittee approves the project, more legislative hurdles, including a full City Council vote, lie ahead. Community group New York Communities for Change and others are hoping that the project is nixed altogether, so it can be replaced by a plan that gives development oversight to a nonprofit who can establish community control via land trust and offer 100 percent affordable housing units. The armory has been vacant since the EDC purchased it in 2013.
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Neighborhoods : Crown Heights