Crown Heights Politicians Bicker Over Armory’s Future

Elected officials representing the rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights have waded into the growing fight over the redevelopment of the city-owned Bedford-Union Armory. The fight has pitted US congresswoman Yvette Clarke, state senator Jesse Hamilton, state assemblyman Walter Mosley and state assemblywoman Diana Richardson against New York City Council Member Laurie Cumbo.

On Monday, Yvette Clarke, Jesse Hamilton, Walter Mosley and Diana Richardson released a letter they had written to the president and CEO of the New York City economic development corporation (EDC) asking that “the community’s voice is both heard and acted upon” as the project progresses.

Reports The Guardian:

Currently, the developer selected by the EDC, BFC Partners, plans to redevelop the site with a 13-story building with 300 rental apartments and 24 condominiums, along with a state-of-the-art recreational center that will be open to the community in some capacity. Of the 300 apartments, 18 will be reserved for households earning no more than 40% of average median income (AMI), which is defined by the city as just over $36,000 for a family of four; another 49 will be set aside for households making no more than 50% of AMI ($45,000 for a family of four). The developer will reserve 99 units for households making no more than 110% of AMI (about $100,000 for a family of four), and the remaining 164 units will go at market rates to those with the minimum income to qualify.

The elected officials representing the neighborhood say that’s not nearly enough in exchange for what is currently public land.

“At a time when gentrification threatens many longtime residents with displacement, we need a comprehensive approach that significantly and substantially addresses all of the community’s needs,” said Clarke in the statement.

In the letter, the elected officials called for the 100% of the building to be comprised of affordable housing units.

However New York City Council Member Laurie Cumbo — who’s currently in the process of hashing out a redevelopment plan for the Armory with the city’s chosen developer, BFG Partners — has since fired back at their all-or-nothing attitude, saying that all redevelopment scenarios for the Armory must be examined, including some that do not include 100 percent affordable housing.

“My greatest fear,” Cumbo wrote, “is that the Bedford Union Armory will remain abandoned for decades to come producing no affordable housing, no employment opportunities for our neighbors, or needed space for our local businesses and non-profits.”

And on Wednesday, in a phone interview with The Prospect Heights Patch, the council member added: “We are at the beginning of the negotiation stage. Let’s find out what all the possibilities are. That’s all.”

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