Forward march: Builder files plans for new tower at C’Heights armory amidst ongoing suit against project

affordable housing
The Bedford Union Armory in Crown Heights.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

A developer filed permits for one of two residential buildings planned to rise as part of its redevelopment of Crown Heights’s Bedford-Union Armory, even though a state Supreme Court judge has yet to rule in a case that could send the city-approved scheme back to the drawing board.

Builder BFC Partners on June 14 submitted plans for an eight-story, 60-unit structure on President Street between Bedford and Rogers avenues — the smaller of two residential towers in its proposed multi-building complex that will boast market-rate and so-called affordable housing, along with a community center, which Council and Mayor DeBlasio approved after a contentious months-long public-review process during which opponents blasted the city for supporting a deal to lease public land to a private developer.

Plans for the eight-story building also show it features storage for 35 bicycles and recreation space in its basement, and a ground-floor inpatient medical facility run by Fort Greene’s Brooklyn Plaza Medical Center that will offer “broad care” including mental-health and substance-abuse services, according to BFC spokesman Sam Spokony.

The builder will demolish the ancient military structure’s stable wing — which held as many as 117 19th-century horses following the armory’s completion in the 1890s — to make way for the smaller high-rise, according to Spokony, who claimed the stables are the site’s only historic holdover that will be completely destroyed in the redevelopment.

The building’s 60 apartments will be among the complex’s total 250 below-market-rate rentals, which will be offered to families and individuals making 30 to 60 percent of the area’s medium income, and include 25 units reserved for formerly homeless people.

BFC bigwigs initially wanted to fill its eight floors with swanky condos, but the project’s critics slammed the luxury for-sale units as a greedy cash grab at the taxpayer’s expense throughout its public-review process, ultimately leading the firm to axe the condominiums and include more below-market-rate rentals in the plan to earn Crown Heights Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo’s crucial support.

Still, the redeveloped armory will feature 165 market-rate apartments along with the rest of the affordable units inside its taller 15-story tower. BFC leaders filed permits for that structure in March, but Department of Buildings brass rejected them because they were “incomplete,” according to an agency spokeswoman, who noted it isn’t unusual for such plans to be reviewed several times before being approved.

The developer’s hired architects are working to address the city’s concerns about the design of the taller building, and the firm intends to re-file plans for it soon, Spokony said.

Elsewhere on the property, BFC will retrofit the main armory building into a public recreation and event space that will feature a swimming pool, fitness facilities, and basketball and multi-purpose courts — a transformation required in its deal to lease the land.

But everything could still come to a screeching halt if a judge rules in favor of lawyers at the Legal Aid Society, who sued the city the day before Council voted to approve the armory redevelopment, and expect a decision on the case to come in the next few weeks, according to a rep.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.