Community Speaks Out Against Controversial Armory Project
City Hall plans to develop a vacant, century-old armory in Crown Heights, a few blocks from the coffee shops and boutiques of Franklin Avenue, has hit multiple roadblocks in recent months as long-time residents protest a project they fear will price them out of the neighborhood. Slate Property Group, embroiled in the $16.5 million Rivington House scandal, backed out last August over bad press. Then Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony revoked his endorsement. And this month, City Hall canceled a public meeting on the project—a few days after state and federal politicians filed a Freedom of Information Law request for the project’s financials, timeline and economic impact.
“Advocates and neighborhood residents all need an opportunity to evaluate each aspect of this Bedford Union Armory development proposal,” said Brooklyn Senator Jesse Hamilton in a statement. “We still have not had our most basic questions answered.”
Hamilton filed the request to the NYC Economic Development Corporation, with Congresswoman Yvette Clarke and State Assemblymembers Diana Richardson and Walter Mosley. A spokeswoman for the EDC said Tuesday that the meeting, originally scheduled for last week, will now likely happen in early March.
“We are always happy to engage in additional conversations, and look forward to ultimately delivering much needed community and recreational space for Crown Heights,” the EDC spokeswoman said.
The Bedford Union Armory project is slotted to include a mix of market-rate and affordable apartments, as well as offices, community space, and a rec center featuring basketball courts, a swimming pool and an indoor turf field. While the proposal calls for 50 percent affordable housing, the project will tentatively include just 18 units, out of a total 330, for renters who make 37 percent of the Area Median Income, or $31,068 for a family of three. An additional 49 apartments will be set at 50 percent of the AMI, or $38,835.
According to an NYU Furman Center report, the 2014 Crown Heights median income was between $41,867 and $44,961 for a household of three. Neighbors worry that the proposed 99 additional apartments at 110 percent of the AMI, or $85,437 for a family of three, will put more pressure on local rent-stabilized tenants who are already facing harassment from profit-seeking landlords.
“Don’t get me wrong. I’m for improving the community,” said Vaughn Armour, 66, a member of New York Communities for Change and Crown Heights resident of 16 years. “But don’t come build on top of us and tell us we have to leave.”