Resignation Over Bedford Armory

The Bedford Armory. (Photo by Ben Foldy via BKLYNER)

The New York City Planning Commission on Monday, Oct. 29, approved plans to redevelop the Bedford-Union Armory in Crown Heights. Anthony Hogrebe, senior vice president of public affairs at the NYC Economic Development Commission, commented following the approval: “As we move to transform the historic Bedford-Union Armory into a world-class recreation center and much-needed housing, we will continue to work with Council member [Laurie] Cumbo and other stakeholders to ensure this project serves the Crown Heights community.”

Indeed, the plans have not sat well with many in the community. Ben Foldy, writing in BKLYNER just a few days before the approval, noted that “neighbors sense an inevitability to a project some feel has ignored their concerns.”

Plans for the 542,000-square-foot complex include a recreation center, office space for community organizations, 330 rental units, and 60 condos. A portion of the rental units are to be designated affordable housing, but as in other neighborhoods, the definition of affordable has left some residents scratching their heads as to just who will be able to afford to rent the apartments.

Plans call for 166 of the rental units to be affordable as determined by the Area Median Income, which combines the median incomes of New York City and the surrounding counties. 99 of those affordable units would go to households making up to 110 percent of AMI, or $94,400 for a family of three. This rankles community groups like Movement to Protect the People and New York Communities for Change, as the most recent American Community Survey estimates the neighborhood’s median household income at $41,984.

The District 9 Community Board voted unanimously against developer BFC Partners’ proposal last June, but the plans went forward to the planning commission all the same.

Michael Liburd, chair of the board’s land use committee, was frustrated. “Why are they presenting the same plan when the community, based on a wide variety of people, would like to see something else?” said Liburd, 46. “It’s ridiculous that we’re in this situation.”

Area residents were mostly resigned to changes in the neighborhood. Go to BKLYNER to read how others viewed the plan.

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