During a City Council subcommittee meeting, the city’s EDC said to reevaluate its affordable housing plan for the Bedford-Union Armory project in response to the community’s strong opposition
The highly-contested redevelopment proposal of the Bedford-Union Armory began the City Council approval process during a subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, amny.com reports. During the meeting, James Patchett, president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) which manages the Armory property, said that his agency is looking into reevaluating the project’s affordable housing plan in response to the strong opposition expressed from local elected officials, community advocates and organizations.
“We are aware that Council Member [Laurie] Cumbo – along with other local leaders and members of the Crown Heights community – have concerns about certain elements of the housing plan, especially the inclusion of market-rate condos,” Patchett said. “That is something we are currently reevaluating, not only in the context of this specific project but going forward in the policy we will apply citywide to other projects on city-owned land.”
The EDC wants to sell part of the property to developer BFC Partners for the creation of 56 condos. The rest of the land would be leased to BFC Partners and turned into office space, a recreation center and 330 apartments, including 165 affordable housing units.
Critics are concerned that the city is leasing public land for private use and thereby not offering enough affordable housing to serve the needs of a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.
“People are being displaced every day,” said Cea Weaver, research director for New York Communities for Change, which advocates for low-income New Yorkers. “To give away public land for private use … it would be a vast misuse of our public resources.”
During a rally at City Hall on Tuesday, various organizations called for the subcommittee to kill the proposal and to allow for a new proposal with all affordable housing units. The organizations also called on Councilmember Cumbo, who represents the 35th District including Crown Heights, to take action against the current proposal. Cumbo came under fire after initially supporting the project, but has since shared the community’s concerns.
Judith Goldiner, attorney-in-charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit at the Legal Aid Society, called the project “flawed” and expressed hopes that the City Council’s oversight process will prevent the project from setting a “dangerous land use precedent.”
The subcommittee is expected to continue the discussion later this month; if it approves the proposal, the project will need to clear several legislative hurdles, including a full City Council vote.
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