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Crown Heights Armory Plan Unanimously Voted Down by Land Use Committee

By Rachel Holliday Smith | June 20, 2017 12:40pm | Updated on June 20, 2017 2:52pm
 Supporters of the Bedford-Union Armory redevelopment held up signs at a CB9 ULURP hearing on Monday. After hearing testimony from more than 50 people, the committee voted unanimously against the project.
Supporters of the Bedford-Union Armory redevelopment held up signs at a CB9 ULURP hearing on Monday. After hearing testimony from more than 50 people, the committee voted unanimously against the project.
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DNAinfo/Rachel Holliday Smith

CROWN HEIGHTS — A local land use committee first in line to officially weigh in on the controversial Bedford-Union Armory redevelopment on Monday gave the city a firm answer on the project: No.

Brooklyn Community Board 9’s land use committee voted unanimously Monday night against a developer's plan to turn the former military facility into 330 apartments, 56 condominiums and a recreation center.

The 15 members of the group each voted no after more than 50 speakers gave testimony about the project, which is overseen by the city’s Economic Development Corp. and developed by BFC Partners.

The committee will give its recommendation to the full board at a meeting next week, at which time CB9 as a whole will approve or disapprove the project as required by the lengthy Uniform Land Use Review Procedure to be completed before construction can begin.

 A rendering for a plan to redevelop the Bedford-Union Armory in Crown Heights shows a portion of the building to become 56 condominiums on the President Street side of the 1903 building and a 13-story rental building to be constructed on the armory's east side.
A rendering for a plan to redevelop the Bedford-Union Armory in Crown Heights shows a portion of the building to become 56 condominiums on the President Street side of the 1903 building and a 13-story rental building to be constructed on the armory's east side.
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Bedford Courts LLC

To those following the project closely, the vote did not come as a surprise. For months, committee members made it clear they did not approve of the project and reiterated their position at a presentation by BFC last week amid raucous protests by activists.

In particular, committee members said they want to see more affordable housing built on the armory site and to nix the 56 condominiums to be built on a portion of the building sold outright to BFC (the rest of the building will be on a 99-year lease).

At Monday’s meeting, CB9 committee member Fred Baptiste underscored that point before the vote.

“It seems like a fool’s deal to give away land for a hundred years for a basketball court and a swimming pool,” he said.

The armory redevelopment plan will need approval from the City Council and mayor, as well, before it can move forward. Crown Heights representative Councilmember Laurie Cumbo has recently said she will not support the project in its current form.

A spokesman from EDC, Ryan Birchmeier, said Tuesday the agency will move forward with "delivering a long-awaited community recreational center and badly needed affordable housing to the Crown Heights community."

"[We] will continue to work with stakeholders to look for ways to make this great project even better," he said in a statement.

After Monday’s vote, BFC spokesman Sam Spokony said the development group is still committed to “turning the armory from an empty space into a place that truly serves Crown Heights families."

"The committee heard tonight from some of the local residents and stakeholders who support revitalizing the Bedford-Union Armory because they want a new recreational center, affordable offices for non-profits and affordable housing in their community,” he said in a statement.

CB9 will consider the project at their next monthly meeting, held at M.S. 61 on Tuesday, June 27 at 7 p.m.