The revised project will provide the greatest level of low-income and affordable housing that the Crown Heights community has seen in decade, said City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo

After nearly a year of protests from Crown Heights residents around the affordable housing plan for the Bedford-Union Armory, City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, who represents the 35th District including Crown Heights, announced a significantly modified plan that aims to address residents concerns.

For more than a year, residents have complained that the developer’s plan to turn the public property into luxury housing  would make the area more expensive for local residents in the long run. The plan initially was backed by Cumbo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

On Tuesday, the New York City Council Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions, and Concessions voted on a significantly modified application secured by Cumbo to create deeper levels of affordable housing, community investments, and local jobs, all without the development of market-rate luxury condominiums, as was laid out in the original proposal.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The new plan quadruples the number of affordable housing that was laid out in the initial plan[/perfectpullquote]

“Today, I am proud to announce my support for a dramatically revised Bedford Union Armory project, which will provide the greatest level of low-income and affordable housing that the Crown Heights community has seen in decade,” said Cumbo.

“I fought to remove 48 luxury condominiums, deepened the bands of affordability by securing approximately 250 housing units for low-income and formerly homeless families – quadrupling the affordable housing that was proposed in the original plan, with at least $1.25 million annually in programmatic engagement at the Armory.”

The property will remain entirely in public ownership, said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “Our community fought for, and achieved, deeper affordability that will include set asides for our formerly homeless neighbors, as well as lasting accessibility to a new neighborhood recreation center with significant space for local non-profits.”

In the amended plan, there will be no condo units included in the final Armory project and the property will remain entirely in public ownership. The more than 400 homes in the project will now be rental units, according to a statement from Cumbo’s office.

The original proposal included just 67 homes that were affordable below 60% AMI – that’s a family of four making $57,000 a year or less. The final Armory project now includes approximately 250 homes that will be affordable below 60% AMI.

The full affordability breakdown is as follows:

–          50 units at 30% AMI (inclusive of 25 units set aside for formerly homeless)

–          24 units at 40% AMI

–          24 units at 50% AMI

–          152 units at 60% AMI

Additionally, 10% of the affordable housing will now be set aside for formerly homeless individuals and families. No housing for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness was proposed in the original project.

The Armory’s historic Drill Shed will be converted into a center with three full-size basketball courts, multipurpose court space for activities like indoor soccer, a six-lane 25-meter indoor swimming pool, and fitness rooms. Affordable office space will be available to non-profits at just $6 per square foot, just 20% of market rate rents in the area which average $30 per square foot. Rent increases will also be capped at 3% annually.

“We are proud to help transform the Bedford-Union Armory from a vacant building into a vibrant community space that will provide a state-of-the-art recreation center, affordable offices and deeply affordable housing for Crown Heights. We are especially committed to ensuring that Crown Heights residents will enjoy ongoing, affordable access to the recreation center and its diverse athletic, fitness and after school programming,” said Don Capoccia, principal of BFC Partners, the site’s developer.

BFC says it will require the future manager of the facilities to curate and manage a list of suggested local vendors, which will be kept up to date and provided to all tenants operating within the Armory. Additionally, BFC committed to contracting 25 percent of the site’s construction to minority- and women-owned businesses (M/WBE), along with an additional 20,000 sqf of community facility space for Brooklyn Medical Plaza to provide healthcare services in Crown Heights.

A community advisory committee will be created to help plan programming for the recreation center and ensure the needs of the local community are met throughout the life of the project, said Cumbo.

“I am proud that a dozen not-for-profit organizations and athletic providers will have a new home at the Armory alongside anchored tenant, Brooklyn Medical Plaza, who will provide quality affordable healthcare for the uninsured,” said Cumbo. “I thank the developer, my colleagues in government, the Administration for their willingness to renegotiate this proposal to best serve Crown Heights and ensure this development is fully aligned with the needs of our community.”

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  1. Well it is about time that somebody stood up for working people on the issue of housing! This is just a drop in the bucket so these politicians shouldn’t break their arms patting themselves on the back. There is a lot more that has to be done to make Brooklyn affordable for those of us who don’t happen to be millionaires!

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