Following the controversy surrounding the Bedford-Union Armory redevelopment project in Crown Heights, which recently lost basketball star Carmelo Anthony as a high-profile backer, advocates are calling upon the city to adopt a policy that will require 10 percent of apartments in development projects on public land to be designated to the homeless while being built with union workers, reports the Daily News.
Groups including Make the Road New York, Met Council on Housing, Housing Works, and several others wrote a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio in which they stated, "We are deeply concerned that the city is still giving away public land to controversial for-profit developers that refuse to build for the homeless and create real affordable housing for New Yorkers."
The groups held a protest on Thursday morning in front of the Bedford-Union Armory in Crown Heights, a project they say isn't affordable enough to help local residents and others who need it most. "The Bedford-Union Armory site is just blocks away from the Bedford Atlantic-Armory Men’s Shelter, one of the largest homeless shelters in the entire city," the letter states. "Yet the redevelopment contract for the public land was awarded to BFC Partners, a developer completely unwilling to build a single apartment for the homeless in the redeveloped Bedford-Union Armory." They call for the dissolution of BFC’s contract to allow for a "more responsible" developer to take over.
In a rebuttal, City Hall spokeswoman Melissa Grace said that the project "brings hundreds of affordable homes to this community with no housing subsidy." Grace stated that the city is "fighting on every front to keep struggling families in their homes" while helping "the most vulnerable New Yorkers back on their feet."
Another controversial developer, Slate Development Group, has recently backed out of the Bedford-Union Armory project. The development firm recently dropped their involvement follow public outrage over their involvement in the Rivington House scandal.
Update: A spokesperson from BFC Capital reached out to Curbed with the following statement:
"Revitalizing the Bedford-Union Armory will provide the Crown Heights community with much-needed affordable housing, affordable office space for non-profits and local organizations, and free or low-cost recreational programming and facilities. We will build the housing component of this project without any City funds, which frees up the City’s resources to create even more affordable housing for low-income and homeless families in Crown Heights and across the city. This project also meets an urgent community need for safe, high-quality facilities for youth athletics, arts, culture, and after-school programming."