Up market: City building apartments on beloved Caribbean shopping center

Up market: City building apartments on beloved Caribbean shopping center
Photo by Jason Speakman

Call it a market watch.

The city plans on handing Ditmas Park’s Flatbush Caton Market — a beloved Caribbean shopping center at the corner of the titular streets — over to a developer, which will turn it into a 10-story tower of below-market-rate housing with a new, larger market at the bottom.

Local pols say they welcome the taxpayer-funded $6-million makeover of the community hub, but they’ll be keeping an eagle eye on the project to make sure developer BRP Development Corporation doesn’t destroy a treasured local resource in the process.

“You may have won the bid but don’t think you’re going to come in here and do something that is not what we stated we wanted,” said Borough President Adams at a press conference announcing the redevelopment on Tuesday. “This is so important to us. We got to get this right.”

BRP plans on expanding the market — which currently houses 47 vendors selling food, beauty products, art, and other services — and adding classroom space, a commercial kitchen, and offices for business group the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The company says it will also provide a temporary space for the vendors during construction.

On top, it will build 166 below-market units, which it claims will house locals at rents they can afford.

“Caton Flats will play a critical role in providing area residents with an affordable place to live,” said Meredith Marshall, managing partner and co-founder of BRP.

The company will earmark half of the units for families earning up to 130 percent of the “area median income,” or around $100,000 a year for a family of three, 30 percent to those making 100 percent of the benchmark — around $77,5000 a year — and 20 percent to those at 60 percent — about $46,500.

The city calculates the area median income based on the entire wages of residents in the broader New York City region — which includes neighboring counties — rather than the neighborhood.

A rep for the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the quasi-governmental body charged with promoting business within the city, said it chose BRP because it has a good track record of creating similar developments and has strong local ties — Marshall is second-generation Bajan and Guyanese and attended Brooklyn Technical High School.

“This project means a lot to me personally because my family came here 100 years ago from Barbados and Guyana,” said Marshall, adding that she remembers attending Little League games in nearby Prospect Park. “We’re from the community, we know the community, and we’ll build what’s right for the community.”

The city has not announced a date for the construction, as the project will still have to undergo a six-month public approval process.

Reach reporter Alley Olivier at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at aolivier@cnglocal.com. Follow Alley on Twitter @All3Y_B.
Thumbs up: Caribbean American Chamber Of Commerce and Industry head honcho Dr. Roy Hastick is excited about the redevelopment of the Flatbush Caton Market.
Photo by Jason Speakman