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No aid: Judge quashes Legal Aid suit to halt Bedford-Union Armory development

The Bedford-Union Armory.
Brooklyn Paper
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A developer behind the project to build housing and a recreation center at the Bedford-Union Armory is looking forward to starting construction this fall, after a judge last month dismissed a lawsuit filed on behalf of Crown Heights residents seeking to block the plan.

“We are excited to now move ahead with our plans to turn the Bedford-Union Armory into a vibrant community hub,” said Sam Spokony, a spokesman for developer BFC Partners.

The suit filed by the Legal Aid Society alleged that the city’s environmental review process failed to account for the effects of developments on residents living in rent-stabilized apartments, who —despite guaranteed rent renewals — may be subject to harassment from landlords as market values soar.

But in a decision dated July 11, state Supreme Court Justice Carmen Victoria St. George ruled that the city’s review guidelines provide an adequate perspective on the environmental impact of developments — even when community members disagree with the outcome.

“The court is sympathetic to petitioners, who aim to protect those who are not members of community boards, are not elected officials, and often do not express their positions at public hearings.” St. George wrote. “The goal of the city, and of the projects at hand, is to balance the interests of communities… this court’s role, in turn, is not to question the way in which the city, entrusted with these projects, draws the balance.”

And when it came to the Bedford-Armory project specifically, the city’s environmental review process worked as intended, according to the St. George, who noted how the city’s Economic Development Corporation altered early plans that included luxury condos in response to community complaints.

“Petitioners’ contention that the lead agency disregarded the criticism of the community…. is belied by the facts,” the judge wrote. “On the contrary, after it considered the comments, the lead [city] agency decided that the project would no longer include luxury condominiu­ms.”

The Legal Aid Society, which represented two Crown Heights residents living in affordable housing in the suit, contended that the judge’s decision disregarded the fact that the armory development will have major consequences for low-income locals. The lead attorney on the case said the Society is considering options to appeal.

“We still maintain that the methodology the city employs to measure tenant displacement is fundamentally flawed, and that it ignores obvious realities and the consequences of land use decisions on rents and livelihoods,” said Kay Meyers. “We are currently weighing all of our options — including appellate litigation and legislation — that will finally resolve this issue for our clients and other low-income New Yorkers.”

BFC Partners struck a deal with the DeBlasio administration to redevelop the historic military structure, and plans to build market-rate and affordable housing there, in addition to a recreation center with office space for non-profit organizations, as part of a 99-year lease with the city as its landlord.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 1:03 pm, July 31, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Mike from Williamsburg says:
If these anti-housing activists want to try to stretch the meaning of "environmental review" to include rising rents in a city with a housing shortage, I'm not surprised their lawsuit was tossed out. But maybe they could try to do something to address the shortage?
July 30, 2018, 8:47 am
Jay from Crownheights says:
Market rate apartments included? What about the missing in between lowincme,those who earn in the upper40's and 50's anything under 58,000 is consider lowincome for a single or a family,but you will see only 40%60% and 130% and up AMI
July 31, 2018, 10:09 am
Michael from Brooklyn says:
Jay,
You're on target. There's a giant gap that has been created + the needs of the middle income are not being met resulting in many long-standing, tax contributing residents having to relocate out of the boro and even the City. It's almost as if the politicians are afraid to address the issue. There was a solid reason for the Mitchell Lama projects. They stabilized neighborhoods and protected the middle class. I am waiting for one of the candidates to address this matter.
July 31, 2018, 11:21 am

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