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Bedford-Union Armory redevelopment loses condos, gains more affordable housing

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City Council member Laurie Cumbo made the announcement about the new agreements on Tuesday

Ariel view of Bedford-Union Armory in Crown Heights BFC Partners

Last week, news emerged that city officials were working to scrap the condo component of the Bedford-Union Armory redevelopment in Crown Heights. On Tuesday, that came to pass. City Council member Laurie Cumbo, who represents the neighborhood, announced that she had reached an agreement with the city and the developer, BFC Partners, to entirely scrap the condos from the overall development.

Previously, plans called for 330 rentals, half of which would be affordable, and 60 condos, 20 percent of which would be affordable. Now the development will be comprised of about 400 rental apartments, of which 250 units will be affordable below 60 percent of the area median income, which works out to about $57,000 or less for a family of four. Previously only 67 of the total apartments were being offered below 60 percent of the AMI.

Here’s a full breakdown of the affordable apartments:

  • 50 apartments will be offered at 30 percent of AMI (25 apartments will be set aside for the formerly homeless).
  • 24 apartments will be offered at 40 percent of AMI.
  • 24 apartments will be offered at 50 percent of AMI.
  • 152 apartments will be offered at 60 percent of AMI.

Despite the loss of the condos, Crown Heights will still get an affordable recreation center. The Armory’s drill shed will be converted into three full-size basketball courts, a multi-purpose court for sports like soccer, a six-lane, 25-meter indoor swimming pool, and fitness rooms. At least 50 percent of the memberships will be reserved for local residents at discounted rates of $10 per month for adults and $8 per month for a child under 16.

BFC Partners has also agreed to offer affordable office space to non-profits at $6 per square foot, compared to market-rate rents of $30 per square foot. They’ve also made commitments to hire locally, support local vendors, and agreed to a 25 percent M/WBE goal for construction. The overall development will also feature a 20,000 square foot facility for Brooklyn Medical Plaza.

Cumbo announced the agreement at the City Council land use subcommittee meeting on Tuesday. She conceded that not everyone would be happy with these new agreements, but she felt this was the best possible outcome that took everyone’s considerations into account.

Cumbo was questioned by City Council member Inez Barron on why the entire residential portion of the development wasn’t affordable. Cumbo argued that funds from the market-rate rentals would go toward funding the community facilities and keeping them affordable. Barron was not convinced, and was the only Council member on the committee that voted against the project.

Many members of the public were similarly unconvinced; activists who have pushed Cumbo to kill the deal entirely showed up at the meeting, and many were eventually forced to leave the hearing amid protests. One Bed-Stuy resident gave reporter Emma Whitford his perspective on the deal, saying that Cumbo’s claims of helping neighborhood kids are inaccurate. “This project doesn’t do anything for the kids,” he told Whitford. “This project gentrifies the neighborhoods, pushes kids out of the neighborhood … the project will do nothing at all for the kids, and force their parents, their friends, and their neighbors out.”

While the project has now cleared the subcommittee stage, the full City Council still has to vote on the matter on November 30. It’s very likely this will pass as Council members tend to side with the opinion of the member representing the neighborhood.

“The significant revisions to this plan were informed by our comprehensive community engagement effort, including discussions with Council Member Cumbo and other local stakeholders,” said Dan Capoccia, the principal of BFC Partners. “Council Member Cumbo has secured a huge win for this community and her stalwart advocacy has been a driving force throughout this process.”

Bedford-Union Armory

1579 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 1225