Brooklyn’s Community Board 9 voted unanimously with one abstention (35-0) against the city’s plan to turn a Crown Heights armory into a condo tower with office space and a recreation center. Observers say that although the Community Board serves in an advisory capacity, its vote could have an impact on the later actions by elected officials, who will be involved in the lengthy land-use review process.
A week earlier, the Land Use Committee of CB9 voted 15-0 with conditions against the plan by a developer to build luxury condominiums on the site of the Bedford Union Armory.
“The key thing to understand is they said no with conditions, not an outright no,” argued Alicia Boyd, community organizer and leader of the Movement to Protect the People, an organization that has been opposing “upzoning” and real estate development in Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Crown Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens and parts of Flatbush, which are covered by CB9.
The full board met June 27.
“As a community, we have reached a pivotal point that will determine the future landscape of Crown Heights—the Bedford Union Armory ULURP [Uniformed Land Use Review Procedure] process,” stated Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo (D-35) in a press release on June 20. “We have and will continue to voice our opposition to a proposal that will undermine the diversity of our community by displacing longstanding residents whose contributions have transformed this neighborhood into a vibrant place to live, work and raise a family.”
Analysts say that the Land Use Review allows the community to offer an advisory recommendation on the proposal.
“I will not support a plan that includes luxury condominiums and grossly overlooks low-income housing at the Bedford Union Armory,” Cumbo said, adding, “I stand united with my constituents to urge Mayor [Bill] de Blasio to go back to the drawing board and create a new plan.”
The first-term Council member, who faces re-election in November, states that there is a need to use “critical” resources for multiuse community space, affordable workspaces for nonprofit organizations and a hub for youth programming.
Boyd calls Cumbo’s stance “a farce.”
“Cumbo coming out against the BFC plan, and then having the city move forward—this is a new twist when dealing with city-owned land,” Boyd said.
“It is a known fact that when children have a place to go, community centers, recreation centers and educational centers, violence is decreased,” Geoffrey A. Davis, co-founder/chairman of the James E. Davis Stop Violence Foundation, explained to the AmNews.
He argued that there is no intention to displace people. Critics of the plan put forth by BFC Partners, such as Boyd, say it is a “Trojan Horse” for gentrification. Davis spoke at the June 19 ULURP hearing.
According to the Brooklyn Paper, BFC Partners wants to convert the former military structure into 330 rental and 60 condo units, with 20 percent of the condos to be offered at below-market rates. A spokesman for BFC told the AmNews that a statement concerning the ULURP hearing would be forthcoming; however, at press time, no such statement had arrived.
“The only weapon the community has is a lawsuit against the city to stop this circus,” Boyd said.
Borough President Eric Adams will review the armory plan after the June 27 vote by CB9.