Crown Heights residents are once again saying kill the deal to the Bedford Union Armory project. Residents voiced their concerns at a local scoping meeting Tuesday, March 7, 2016, at the Ebbets Field Middle School.
Crown Heights residents have spent several years fighting against the Armory project. Residents do not believe the project is in their best interest.
The current project offers luxury apartment buildings and a recreation center. Although residents feel that center is needed, they feel that it should offer things such as job training and educational programming.
A local resident of Bed-Stuy, Carl N’ Harris, wants to see the space used as something to truly benefit the community.
“To simply put it, I just want to see it turn into a project that’s really going to benefit the community in some kind of way,” N’ Harris said. “If it’s going to be a center, it should be a center to benefit the youth, as well as the old.”
Residents who spoke also mentioned the importance of affordable housing in a community where many have seen the displacement of their neighbors.
According to New York Communities for Change, approximately 10,000 residents have been evicted from their homes in the 11225 ZIP code, where the armory is currently located.
Although many residents are against the project, some seem to welcome the idea of a project that could offer different recreational programs to the community. That would address many underlying issues in the community.
Christian Waterman, a Crown Heights resident, sees the project at as benefit.
“This armory is going to be the community center that thousands of children from this neighborhood, currently and over the course of the last few generations, have never had,” Waterman said.
Medgar Evers College student Ras O’Neil Morgan would like to see the buildings grow into cooperative housing, as a way for the residents to gentrify their own neighborhood as opposed to outside gentrifiers.
“The land should be used for cooperative housing, and cooperative economics,” Morgan said. “I feel because it is a public land, the public should have a say in the way that it is gentrified.”
Esteban Grion, a leader of the Crown Heights Tenant Union, also voiced his concerns for the residents.
“We’re here to express our opposition to this deal, and we’re also here to talk about the affordable housing component, as well as the labor component if it’s not union labor,” Grion said. “It’s really important. It will be an unsafe site if there’s no Union labor after that.”
The residents of Crown Heights will continue to fight for the betterment of their community.