Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams today recommended against the city approving the proposed redevelopment of the Bedford Union Armory in Crown Heights on the grounds that the mixed-use proposal should remain 100 percent city-owned and not include any condos.
The current proposal on the table has the city giving a 99-year lease to BFC Partners, except for around 50 market-rate condominiums it plans to sell. The developer will then turn the rest of the 138,000-square-foot armory into a state-of-the-art recreational center, spaces for locally based non-profits and 330 mixed income rental units.
Adams, who made his recommendations as part of the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), emphasized the need for advancing permanent affordable housing, as well as incorporating permanent housing for homeless households through the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD)’s “Our Space Initiative” program.
“My recommendations for the future of the Bedford Union Armory site are based on thousands of community voices that I have heard through various channels over the past several years,” said Adams. “Local residents of Crown Heights and all Brooklynites deserve transparency. It is important that we have as much information as possible before any final decision is made on these applications.”
Adams made it clear in the statement released from his office that he does not support any luxury condominiums on the armory footprint, and that maximum delivery of affordable housing on-site should come through multiple income tiers.
Adams envisioned that the upper-tier units could offset some of the operational costs incurred by the recreational center such as the swimming pool, while potentially subsidize user fees. This requires a considerable reevaluation of the construction costs of delivering the recreational center, he said.
Adams also recommended that 20 percent of the affordable housing be earmarked for homeless individuals and hoemless families in the workforce.
“This is our opportunity to get this right,” said Adams. “This process has gone through years of debate, emotions, and public scrutiny, both for and against the development. We must ultimately come together and find the right balance that is the ideal solution for the future of Crown Heights, and for the optimal reuse of the Bedford Union Armory as a public resource.”
A BFC Partners spokesperson said the company remains committed to providing a new affordable recreation center, affordable office space for non-profits and affordable housing for the Crown Heights community.
“As the Bedford-Union Armory continues to sit vacant, this is an opportunity to make it a place that truly serves local families. This process is important because we’ve heard the community’s concerns loud and clear and we’re working with the City and local stakeholders to make the project even better,” said the spokesperson.
Adams’ recommendations along with the project now moves before the City Planning Commission (CPC) on Tuesday, September 19. From there the project goes before the city council for a final vote, and which traditionally follows the lead of the city council member in whose district the particular project is located.
In this case it is City Council Member Laurie Cumbo, who originally lauded the project, but has since walked back her views under pressure from the community and a competitive primary challenge from Ede Fox.
Mayor Bill de Blasio is on record as supporting the project.