Unnecessary luxury: Beep slams condos in official opposition of armory redevelopment scheme

It is open season on the Crown Heights armory
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

He won’t sell out his borough.

Borough President Adams blasted Mayor DeBlasio’s plan to give Crown Heights’ Bedford-Union Armory to private developers, claiming the deal calls for too many luxury condos and not enough affordable housing. His official critique cited concerns of local residents and activists, who continue to criticize the scheme as wrong for the neighborhood, and demanded a more informed process to determine the publicly owned building’s fate.

“My recommendations for the future of the Bedford-Union Armory site are based on thousands of community voices that I have heard through various channels over the past several years,” Adams said in a Sept. 1 statement. “Residents of Crown Heights deserve transparency. It is important that we have as much information as possible before any final decision is made on these applications.”

The beep’s appraisal came amid a public-review process that will either make or break the deal, and followed similar official condemnations from Community Board 9 and its Land Use Committee earlier this year.

The city’s plan would grant developer BFC Partners a long-term lease to redevelop the historic military structure on Bedford Avenue between President and Union streets on the conditions that the builder incorporate community benefits including a new recreation center and below-market-rate housing.

But critics slam the affordable housing component, claiming only 18 out of the proposed 330 units will be offered at rates within the means of average Crown Heights residents. And they oppose the more than 50 luxury condos the developer wants to erect at the site, arguing they will attract wealthy, non-local buyers and accelerate the gentrification of their nabe.

Adams specifically panned the luxury condos in his review of the plan, and instead called for building more apartments affordable to lower-income tiers.

He argued the loss of condominiums could be offset by offering more housing at just-below-market rates and suggested that a financial study be conducted to determine the most efficient mix of units.

The beep also requested the city explore the possibility of allocating 20 percent of the project’s rental units to the Our Space Initiative, which provides newly built affordable housing to the homeless.

The Department of City Planning will review Adams’ and the community board’s recommendations at a Sept. 19 public meeting before making its own decision on the armory project.

The proposal will then head to city Council — which has authority over schemes that put public land in private hands — where Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo (D–Crown Heights) has vowed to vote it down.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Just said no: Borough President Adams announced on Sept. 1 his official opposition to the city's proposal to give Crown Heights' historic military structure to private developers.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini