Central Bklyn Lawmakers FOIL City On Bedford Armory Proposal

State Sen. Jesse Hamilton, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, Assemblyman Walter Mosley, and Assemblywoman Diana Richardson today filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request with the City’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) to get all the details including the financials of the proposed Bedford Union Armory development.

All of the officials represent in their respected offices the city-owned Armory site at the Bedford Avenue/Union Street intersection. For a good part of last year they have made repeated requests of the EDC and the contract holder, BFC Partners, to make public details of the proposed development, including the financials.

The four lawmakers recently wrote an Op-Ed for KCP demanding that the project include 100 percent affordability on all the housing. Under the deal announced in December 2015,  the City will enter into a 99 year lease with the developer for a 330 rental apartments, which will be 50% market rate and 50% below market rate (affordable).

As first reported, the development will also include a number of market rate condominiums, some of which will also be affordable or below market rate. The proposal also includes a commercial building containing a sports and recreational facility, a community event space, and office space.

State Sen. Jesse Hamilton

“When you’re entrusting someone with a valuable asset  – a community asset – you need to examine the fine print. Advocates and neighborhood residents all need an opportunity to evaluate each aspect of this Bedford Union Armory development proposal. We still have not had our most basic questions answered, with the numbers to back up the claims being made by BFC Partners and the NYS EDC. Are we as a community getting fair treatment, a reasonable deal, and on terms the community can afford?” said Hamilton, who authored the letter.

Specifically, the lawmakers are asking in their letter the projected profits to the developer, the expectations of the developer, the timeline of the project, the penalties for failing to live up to any of the terms of the agreement (including timeline, affordability of apartments, quality of construction, et cetera), environmental impact during construction and after completion, and details on any benefits that the EDC is offering, including loan guarantees and other indirect subsidies.

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke

“When we permit a private company to develop a public resource, we have an obligation to insist on a transparent process where the benefits to the public are clearly outlined and there are provisions that require compliance. At this point, the Economic Development Corporation has not yet released information to the public or to elected officials that would allow for a full and fair evaluation of the Bedford Union Armory developer’s proposal,” said Clarke.

“We need to know the details about the benefits of this development for the Crown Heights community as well as the step-by-step process by which those benefits will be achieved,” she added.

“I stand with my colleagues in government today asking for information pertinent to the future of the Bedford Union Armory Project. If this developer truly wants to engage in open and honest dialogue with the community, why are they forcing the elected representatives of the community to issue a FOIL request about the financing of the project? We must ensure that this project is reflective of the needs of Crown Heights and I will continue to fight until it does,” said Mosley.

Assembly Member Diana Richardson

“There has been an increasing sentiment of distrust due to the lack of transparency of BFC Partners and NYSEDC regarding details and financials of the Bedford Union Armory,“ said Richardson. “It is vital that the community gets the opportunity to make a reasonable assessment of this project to determine if they are getting a fair shake.”

The project originally had two developers, BFC Developers and Slate Property Group in a joint venture. However, as DNAInfo first reported, Slate dropped out after local housing advocates condemned the real estate group for its involvement with the contentious sale of the Rivington House, a Lower East Side nursing home turned into market-rate condominiums.

The Armory issue is fast becoming the cause celebre of Crown Heights, and could also have political implications as City Council Member Laurie Cumbo (Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights) supports the project, although she has of late shown a willingness to renegotiate it.

Cumbo is expected to face a tough primary challenge from Ede Fox, who this week formally filed a campaign committee with the city Campaign Finance Board allowing her to start raising money for the race.

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