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In Brooklyn, state- and hospital-owned sites will give rise to affordable housing

Governor Cuomo’s Vital Brooklyn initiative will also include the creation of parkland and new community spaces

Flickr / Governor Andrew Cuomo

Governor Cuomo’s Vital Brooklyn initiative which seeks to bring affordable housing, health care services, and new parkland to central Brooklyn got a boost today with the announcement of five new RFPs that will contribute to the state’s goal of bringing 3,000 new units of affordable housing to the underserved area.

The announcement also includes a breakdown of how funds will be divided for the creation of new parkland and community space in the borough, including the ambitious 407-acre state park Cuomo announced during his State of the State address in January.

The RFPs issued today seek to transform sites formerly used by the state-owned Interfaith Hospital in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center located in Brownsville, and Brooklyn Developmental Center in East New York with 100-percent affordable housing developments. In addition to below market rate housing each new development will include an ambulatory care center, contributing to Vital Brooklyn’s goal of introducing 32 new ambulatory care centers to the area.

The RFPs also call for additional community benefits beyond housing to be included in the developments, like retail, community facilities, green building practices, and public plazas. Additional request for proposals will be issued in the summer for mixed-use, affordable housing developments on state- and hospital-owned sites that have yet to be announced. The RFPs will lead to the creation of more than 2,000 units of affordable housing in the area.

In the lead up to the RFPs and at the behest of Governor Cuomo, each central Brooklyn assembly member was tasked with convening a Community Advisory Council that would provide input about the needs of the community and give shape to the developments to come.

The initiative’s 407-acre park near Jamaica Bay will be a long time in the making, but New Yorkers can now know what to expect in the immediate future: The state announced on Thursday that the first phase of work will avail 3.5 miles of waterfront, miles of walking paths and trails, and a coastal highland, planted with native species, to the area. (Sorry—there’s no word yet on just when this will be.)

The park will be constructed on land that was once occupied by the former Pennsylvania Avenue and Fountain Avenue Landfills, where a remediation effort has been ongoing since 2002, and the design process is already underway.

A press release issued by the governor when the park was first announced clarified that later phases will “include construction of a connecting bridge between the two sites, dedicated environmental education facilities, and an amphitheater, creating a unique and expansive cultural and natural space for the community.”

The Vital Brooklyn initiative will also bring about the transformation of eight asphalt schoolyards into “dynamic” playgrounds and community gathering spaces by 2020; $3.1 million in upgrades to 22 area community gardens; and $1.8 million in enhancements to the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club Thomas Murphy Clubhouse, North Brooklyn/Twelve Towns YMCA, Bedford Stuyvesant YMCA, and Flatbush YMCA.

“Every New Yorker deserves equal access to health care, quality housing, outdoor recreation, and opportunities to earn a decent wage for a fair day’s work, but for too long Central Brooklyn has lacked the attention and investments needed to deliver equity for residents,” Governor Cuomo said in a prepared statement.

“The launch of phase two builds on progress already made by continuing to invest in the holistic Vital Brooklyn Initiative to ensure men and women are provided fair housing opportunities within the growing community, as New York works to transform the region into a better, brighter Brooklyn for generations to come.”