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Bedford-Union Armory redevelopment loses key backing

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City Council member Laurie Cumbo no longer supports the project

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

The already troubled Bedford-Union Armory redevelopment project is further imperiled now that City Council member Laurie Cumbo, who represents the neighborhood the armory is in, has decided not to back the project. Politico first reported on this development earlier today, and Cumbo confirmed in a press conference held at Brooklyn Borough Hall this afternoon. She was joined there by several other elected officials including Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and comptroller Scott Stringer.

For months now, Cumbo has been pressured by local residents to take a clear stance on the project. Many Crown Heights residents have opposed the project citing a lack of affordability, and last year locals demanded that the redevelopment project be entirely affordable, considering the fact that it’s being built on public land.

“I stand here today with my colleagues in government to demand Mayor de Blasio go back to the drawing board and produce a plan that meets the needs of my Brooklyn neighbors,” Cumbo said in a statement. “It’s important that we have a developer that helps enhance our community, meets with the trade unions, commits to hiring locally, and builds this project with the highest safety standards available.”

The developer of the 138,000-square-foot facility, BFC Partners, was selected by the city’s Economic Development Corporation to convert this massive space into 330 rentals, 60 condos, and a recreation center with a swimming pool, three basketball courts, and an indoor soccer field. Developers decided to offer half the rentals as affordable units, and 20 percent of the condos as affordable as well.

But local residents have always maintained that this is not enough, and the officials gathered today—which also included Public Advocate Letitia James and City Council member Jumanne Williams—seem to agree. “We’re sending a loud and clear message: We will not accept a plan that pushes out the people who built this community,” Comptroller Stringer said in a statement. “Affordable housing should be just that—affordable. The Armory can be the model for responsible development in the city. That’s exactly why we’re standing up and speaking out.”

The project needs to go through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure in order to move forward. The elected officials’ announcement Thursday afternoon comes just a week before the City Planning Commission will vote on the project. The final say, however, rests with the City Council, and council members usually tend to defer to the elected official from that neighborhood, so at this point it seems very unlikely that the project will move forward.

Over the past few months BFC Partners has tried every which way to appease locals, whether it is to bring non-profit partners on board, or promise union jobs and training but to no avail.

The developer released this statement following this afternoon’s presser:

BFC is fully committed to revitalizing the Bedford-Union Armory and providing much-needed recreational facilities, affordable housing and affordable office space for the Crown Heights community. The economic realities of cross-subsidizing a new rec center and the lack of housing subsidies mean that 50 percent affordability is the only option currently available at the Armory.

Bedford-Union Armory

1579 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 1225