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Bedford-Union Armory Redevelopment Voted Down by Crown Heights Board

 A rendering of the Bedford-Union Armory redevelopment shows the building with added apartments and condominiums. The project would also create a 35,000-square-foot recreation center inside the building's domed former drill hall.
A rendering of the Bedford-Union Armory redevelopment shows the building with added apartments and condominiums. The project would also create a 35,000-square-foot recreation center inside the building's domed former drill hall.
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Bedford Courts LLC

CROWN HEIGHTS — Nearly all members of the local community board Tuesday night gave their official thumbs down to a controversial plan to turn the historic Bedford-Union Armory into condominiums, apartments and a recreation center.

Brooklyn Community Board 9, which has an advisory vote on the matter, rejected BFC Partners' plan to redevelop the vacant former Crown Heights military building on Bedford Avenue. Thirty five board members voted against the project and one abstained from voting; none voted in support.

The project still faces a months-long review process through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, which would require approval from the City Council and mayor in order to get built.

Board members have criticized the armory plan for months and CB9’s decision follows a unanimous "no" vote from the board’s land use committee last week.

Tuesday’s meeting was attended by dozens of activists and residents who have been rallying for months to see the deal killed. Holding signs reading “BFC = Gentrification,” they cheered when the vote came down.

But the project is far from being killed completely. Ultimately, CB9’s input in the ULURP process is advisory and only Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council have outright power to approve or reject the project.

Crown Heights councilmember Laurie Cumbo attended the CB9 meeting and reiterated her stance — made public last month — that she will not support the armory redevelopment in its current form.

However, Lydia Downing, a representative of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which is overseeing the development of the project, said the group is “working very closely” with BFC and the city to address criticism of the plan, particularly those who say the publicly held site should not be used for private, market-rate condominiums.

“We have certainly heard from the community throughout this process that the condos are a significant sticking point. So what we’re trying to do now is negotiate with BFC to understand, is there a way to remove the condos and still have a financially feasible project?” she said.

There is no indication the project plan will change before the end of the ULURP process. Currently, the redevelopment would include 330 market-rate and affordable rentals apartments, 58 condominiums and a 35,000-square-foot recreation center with a pool, basketball courts and other fitness elements.

A spokesman for BFC, Sam Spokony, said the condominiums "provide funds needed to develop the recreation and community center" and revenue from the market-rate rental units ensure "that the rec center remains sustainable, affordable to the community and well-maintained for many generations to come."

"We have heard the community and community board’s concerns loud and clear and we are working hard alongside the city and local stakeholders to make this project even better. We are committed to revitalizing the Armory and making it a place that serves all Crown Heights families, and we are confident that a positive resolution will be reached during the ULURP process and this can become a reality," he said in a statement.