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Luxury Condos in Brooklyn Are “Gentrification at Its Worst”

Crown Heights, Brooklyn

Gentrifying Armory

The Bedford Union Armory in Crown Heights, Brooklyn (image via Google Maps)

Nov. 16, 2017

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s cherished plan to convert the Bedford Union Armory in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, into an eclectic mix – including 330 rental apartments, half of them affordable; a sports and recreation center; plus 56 condo units, 44 of them market-rate – has run into withering opposition from neighborhood activists. It’s led by city councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, a Brooklyn Democrat, who called the inclusion of luxury condos in the project “gentrification at its worst.”

The stiff local resistance to the project, which was first proposed in 2015, led city officials to announce earlier this week that they may withdraw the market-rate condos from the proposal, the Daily News reports. The project has struggled to gain support from the city council, which must approve it. 

Cumbo’s opposition to market-rate condos appears to have caught the attention of the de Blasio administration. “That is something we are currently reevaluating,” Economic Development Corporation president James Patchett said at a hearing. “The mayor is seriously considering this policy in a citywide basis, and whether it is appropriate under any circumstances to be providing condos on city-owned property.” 

The condos were originally supposed to generate cash to help pay for the rec center, but Cumbo says she is sticking by her opposition to them as an unwelcome spur for gentrification in Crown Heights, which, like nearby Bedford-Stuyvesant, has recently experienced soaring rents and real-estate values. 

“I oppose the proposal that is in front of us today,” Cumbo said. “I will reject this application unless I can secure a project that at baseline has no market-rate condos or luxury condos.”

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