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Bedford-Union Armory redevelopment hearing postponed amid mounting opposition

Detractors continue to argue for more affordable housing at the site

The battle over the redevelopment of Crown Heights’s Bedford-Union Armory into a mixed-use project including affordable housing rages on. In light of ongoing public pressure for the developer to dedicate 100 percent of the project’s 330 rentals and 60 condos as affordable housing, rather than set aside 50 percent of the rentals and just 12 condos as affordable as laid out under the current plan, City Hall has canceled a public hearing intended to address the project. An NYCEDC official projects that the meeting will be rescheduled for March.

Crains reports by way of Politico that the meeting was axed after Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, Senator Jesse Hamilton, and New York state assembly members Diana Richardson and Walter Mosley filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to bring to light the project’s timeline and the penalties developers BFC Partners and Brooklyn-based nonprofit CAMBA would incur if they didn’t build out to plan. It also seeks to uncover the developers’ projected profits.

In a proposal selected by the city’s Economic Development Corporation, BFC Partners and CAMBA committed to redevelop the aging 138,000-square-foot armory into a 542,393-square-foot mixed-use project with 330 rentals, 60 condos, and a recreation area including a swimming pool, three basketball courts, and an indoor soccer field. The city has been in control of the property since 2013.

The redevelopment has been under constant scrutiny by the community, as it’ll appropriate a public facility for private housing. “Public land is a public resource, and we only have one chance to get this project correct,” the four politicians wrote to NYCEDC back in October.

The politicians, along with the community, are demanding increased affordable housing more aligned to the need of the existing Crown Heights community at the site. "This is a gentrification plan, plain and simple," a member of New York Communities for Change told Politico. "Crown Heights is under attack from developers and financial institutions that back them."

While none of the four politicians who filed the FOIL request have veto power over the project, the FOIL request may serve to put pressure on Crown Heights Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, who does have the power to block the project. As noted by Crain’s, Cumbo told Politico that the proposal’s affordable housing component is still lacking, and that she’s in negotiations over the proposal. Although she’s previously stated her support for the redevelopment, Cumbo now says she has yet to decide if she’ll back the proposal.