Bedford Union Armory—A battle for affordability

Mika Basson | 11/10/2016, 10:20 a.m.
Assemblywoman Diana C. Richardson spoke out against development of the Bedford Union Armory and for affordability in the Crown Heights ...
Bedford Union Armory Wikipedia

Assemblywoman Diana C. Richardson spoke out against development of the Bedford Union Armory and for affordability in the Crown Heights neighborhood.

The Bedford Union Armory development is proposed to be an affordable recreational center and housing development. The development, however, is surrounded by myriad controversies.

“This project represents a classic tale of gentrification: 5 percent of rental units will be affordable at 40 percent AMI and 15 percent of units at 60 percent AMI,” said Richardson. “Thirty percent of the units will be at 110 percent of AMI. The remainder will be at market rate.”

The largest controversy surrounding the project is its unaffordability to the residents of the community in which it is based. The development is set to bring in a higher paying class of residents. According to Richardson, none of the units cater to senior citizens with a social security income.

“In an ever changing city of development, as elected officials, we have an obligation to protect those who rely on our voice to advocate for them,” said Richardson. “It is vital that we stand together on the right side of this housing issue. As both a resident of the 35th Council District and assemblywoman of the neighboring assembly district, I cannot stand by and watch ink dry on a development plan detrimental to Crown Heights and its neighboring communities.”

Richardson stressed the importance of the armory’s purpose of providing 100 percent affordable housing. “The RFP reflects the city’s, not the neighborhood’s, vision of what the Bedford Union Armory should become,” she said. “And today, there are still several layers of uncertainty. As a community we cannot afford that.”

The Economic Development Corporation selected Slate and BFC partners to develop the Bedford Union Armory. It was later brought to the attention of the mayoral administration through grassroots activist groups such as New York Communities for Change and the Crown Heights Tenants Union. BFC Partners has allegedly sued low-income homeowners and been accused of paying poverty wages and bulldozing over community gardens.

“We are asking the City of New York to provide every layer of transparency with this project,” said Richardson. “To date, four of the five elected officials in discussion with the city around this project have not seen financials for this project.”

The assemblywoman has planned a public meeting for Tuesday Nov.15 to block the current proposal and start fresh with one that better serves the community’s needs.