Residents rail against BFC’s Bedford-Union Armory project

They argued that the site should be turned over to a community land trust

Bedford Union Armory
Bedford Union Armory

Residents and affordable housing advocates on Tuesday rallied against plans to convert the Bedford-Union Armory into a mixed-use building, arguing that the property should instead be converted into a community land trust.

Protesters asserted that in order to assure that the affordable housing commitments at the project are kept, the city-owned land shouldn’t be turned over a private developer, Gothamist reported. If the site were turned over a trust, a community-controlled nonprofit would own it.

“If they lose the armory, this community’s gone,” real estate attorney Sylvia Kinard told Gothamist at a public meeting held on Tuesday. “It’s not just shutting it down. The option is not just finding another developer. We need to make sure that this property, this public resource stays a resource for the community.”

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The project’s developer, BFC Partners [TRDataCustom], plans to convert the 542,000-square-foot former military building into 330 affordable and market-rate rentals, along with community space. There will be 177 low- and moderate-income units. Only 30 percent of the project’s units will be permanently affordable.

The developer has also pledged to direct at least $500,000 from the sale of 56 condos to a fund dedicated to building affordable housing elsewhere in Crown Heights. The Local Development Corporation of Crown Heights will manage the fund.

Protestors argued that only 18 units in the project designated for the lowest income bracket would actually be affordable for the average Crown Heights family. Members of the union Local 79 also spoke at the meeting, urging the developers to use union labor on the project. [Gothamist] — Kathryn Brenzel