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Legal Aid Society Suing to Block Brooklyn Armory Development

Crown Heights, Brooklyn

Armory Roadblock

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

Nov. 29, 2017

Some real-estate developments in New York City can’t win for losing – even when they agree to ditch locally unpopular luxury condos. Consider the project to turn the Bedford Union Armory in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, into a recreation center mixed with housing. A week after the divisive project cleared a major hurdle with neighborhood opponents, a new legal roadblock has emerged. 

The Legal Aid Society will hold an event on the steps of City Hall at 11 o’clock this morning, unveiling its planned lawsuit to block the project, the Real Deal reports. The suit will challenge not only the current plan for the Crown Heights site, but also the city’s method of evaluating tenant displacement in land-use decisions.

The project’s developer, BFC Partners, appeared to appease neighborhood activists last week when it agreed to drop widely derided luxury condos from the housing mix, and instead build 250 affordable rental apartments with rents ranging from $521 to $1,166 a month. Neighborhood residents would be allotted half of the recreation center’s memberships for $10 a month. The changes won the endorsement of local city councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, a major opponent of the developer’s original plan. Now comes the lawsuit – a day before the full city council is scheduled to vote on the modified plan. 

The project continues to serve as a lightning rod for neighborhood activists pushing back against the relentless march of gentrification, which is spreading especially briskly in Brooklyn. Some protesters were arrested during a city Planning Commission hearing on the plan. 

In an earlier statement, the Legal Aid Society said, “From the start, this project has been flawed and offers little relief for the residents of a neighborhood that’s suffering from gentrification and skyrocketing rents. Land that is fully owned by the public should serve an exclusive public purpose. Until the Bedford Union Armory development plan reflects that, we will continue to oppose it on behalf of our clients and other low-income New Yorkers who are in desperate need of affordable and permanent housing.”

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