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Protestors swarm Borough Hall to oppose Bedford-Union Armory development

Opposition at work: Local 79 member Oniel Rosen, left, holds a sign while protesting against the city-backed plan to put the Bedford-Union Armory in the hands of a developer.
Community News Group / Matt John

An army of detractors took the resistance to new heights.

Crown Heights locals joined labor union members and affordable housing advocates outside Borough Hall on July 10 to denounce Mayor DeBlasio’s plan to hand over the publicly-owned Bedford-Union Armory to a private developer with a reputation for pursuing profit at the expense of safety on construction sites, according to attendees.

“Every part of this development is done to privatize the profit and socialize the risk,” said area resident D.J. Waletzky, who attended with his daughter. “My grandfather, who was a contractor, died from asbestos — my family lives just down the block from the armory, and I’ll be damned if my daughter dies from the same thing that killed her great-grandfather.”

The concerned father protested the plan to give the military structure to developer BFC Partners alongside affordable housing advocates from the Crown Heights Tenants Association, Churches for Fair Housing, and Williamsburg’s Los Sures, as well as members of unions Local 79, which includes construction laborers, and 32BJ, which includes property service workers such as cleaners and doormen.

The rally took place as Borough President Adams — who said earlier this year that he would recommend the city kill the deal — held an open meeting that continued the project’s public review process, which ended its first phase last month when Community Board 9 unanimously voted down the scheme.

Opponents continue to criticize the proposal, which would bring below-market-rate housing and a recreation center to the building on Bedford Avenue between President and Union streets, for its planned 50 luxury condominiums. And because only 18 units among a total 330 will be offered at rates within the means of area residents — far too few, according to protesting locals.

“It’s good that the guys who came up with the proposal want to help the city, but when you live in Crown Heights all your life, you want to benefit from something like this too,” said Oniel Rosen, a neighborhood resident and Local 79 member.

Adams is expected to deliver his recommendation on the plan by the end of this month, after which it will head to the Department of City Planning, then to City Council, which is expected to vote in line with Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo (D–Crown Heights), who has said she will oppose it.

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