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The developer of the Bedford-Union Armory in Crown Heights announced Wednesday that a nonprofit partner has joined the project to handle outreach and oversee a trust fund that aims to help pay for new affordable housing units in the area. The addition of...

Nonprofit joins push for Crown Heights armory project

The developer of the Bedford-Union Armory in Crown Heights announced Wednesday that a nonprofit partner has joined the project to handle outreach and oversee a trust fund that aims to help pay for new affordable housing units in the area. The addition of...

Nonprofit joins push for Crown Heights armory project

The developer of the Bedford-Union Armory in Crown Heights announced Wednesday that a nonprofit partner has joined the project to handle outreach and oversee a trust fund that aims to help pay for new affordable housing units in the area. The addition of the Local Development Corp. of Crown Heights will create a buffer between the lead developer of the project, BFC Partners, and an increasingly restive community, though it is unclear whether that will blunt criticism of the project.

BFC Partners is converting a city-owned, 138,000 square-foot former National Guard armory on the corner of Bedford Avenue and Union Street into a sports facility that it promises will be affordable for local residents. The project, which needs approval from the City Council, will also include office and community space, along with affordable and market-rate rentals and condos.

A group of elected officials and community members have opposed the development and staged protests as recently as last week. But the local development corporation, a small Crown Heights nonprofit founded in 1987, said that it hopes to improve relations by hosting outreach meetings and creating a neighborhood advisory community to solicit input.

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“I think this is a worthwhile project for the community and our city,” said Caple Spence, executive director of the nonprofit. “With our participation, I think the elected officials will be much warmer to the development.”

The nonprofit will also hunt for opportunities to hire minority and women-owned businesses, and will handle a newly created trust fund that will be seeded with at least $500,000 from BFC.

The fund will receive funds from initial condo sales at the development, and possibly also get annual contributions from rental income. The money will be put toward building more affordable housing in the area, though it was unclear how many units the kitty was expected to create.

The corporation’s involvement is unlikely to sway many critics of the armory, since the fundamental components are not slated to change.

“[BFC’s] remedy of adding a nonprofit partner this late in the process is like putting a Band-Aid on a tumor,” said Crown Heights resident Vaughn Armour, a member of opposition group New York Communities for Change, which opposes the redevelopment and has targeted the practices of for-profit developers such as BFC. “The only way to save the Armory is to kill the project and start over.”

Protesters have demanded that the market-rate rentals and condos—which BFC argues are needed to build and fund the sports facility—be replaced with affordable housing, which is a more pressing need in the gentrifying community. And a number of state representatives have questioned the project’s budget.

The Crown Heights organization, which owns and operates around 650 units of senior and affordable housing in Brooklyn, is the second nonprofit to join the project, and according to Spence, has been in talks with BFC to come aboard since it was first announced.

The developer of the Bedford-Union Armory in Crown Heights announced Wednesday that a nonprofit partner has joined the project to handle outreach and oversee a trust fund that aims to help pay for new affordable housing units in the area. The addition of the Local Development Corp. of Crown Heights will create a buffer between the lead developer of the project, BFC Partners, and an increasingly restive community, though it is unclear whether that will blunt criticism of the project.

BFC Partners is converting a city-owned, 138,000 square-foot former National Guard armory on the corner of Bedford Avenue and Union Street into a sports facility that it promises will be affordable for local residents. The project, which needs approval from the City Council, will also include office and community space, along with affordable and market-rate rentals and condos.

A group of elected officials and community members have opposed the development and staged protests as recently as last week. But the local development corporation, a small Crown Heights nonprofit founded in 1987, said that it hopes to improve relations by hosting outreach meetings and creating a neighborhood advisory community to solicit input.

“I think this is a worthwhile project for the community and our city,” said Caple Spence, executive director of the nonprofit. “With our participation, I think the elected officials will be much warmer to the development.”

The nonprofit will also hunt for opportunities to hire minority and women-owned businesses, and will handle a newly created trust fund that will be seeded with at least $500,000 from BFC.

The fund will receive funds from initial condo sales at the development, and possibly also get annual contributions from rental income. The money will be put toward building more affordable housing in the area, though it was unclear how many units the kitty was expected to create.

The corporation’s involvement is unlikely to sway many critics of the armory, since the fundamental components are not slated to change.

“[BFC’s] remedy of adding a nonprofit partner this late in the process is like putting a Band-Aid on a tumor,” said Crown Heights resident Vaughn Armour, a member of opposition group New York Communities for Change, which opposes the redevelopment and has targeted the practices of for-profit developers such as BFC. “The only way to save the Armory is to kill the project and start over.”

Protesters have demanded that the market-rate rentals and condos—which BFC argues are needed to build and fund the sports facility—be replaced with affordable housing, which is a more pressing need in the gentrifying community. And a number of state representatives have questioned the project’s budget.

The Crown Heights organization, which owns and operates around 650 units of senior and affordable housing in Brooklyn, is the second nonprofit to join the project, and according to Spence, has been in talks with BFC to come aboard since it was first announced.

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