The 120-year-old Bedford-Union Armory, located at 1579 Bedford Avenue in Crown Heights, officially is getting a new identity.
Previously empty– apart from a section used as a homeless shelter for men– the 150,000-square foot space will become a mixed-use development building housing hundreds of affordable housing units, a multi-sport recreational facility, a community event space, as well as office and commercial spaces, announced Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams on Thursday.
Serious talks of renovating the landmarked building began in 2013 when the city first issued an RFP. But plans were stalled when city officials discovered, particularly after Hurricane Sandy, that the massive drill hall could play a vital role as an evacuation center and for shelter in the event of natural disasters.
In summer and fall 2014, NYCEDC and local elected officials co-hosted group discussions with local community leaders from 23 organizations and conducted two public meetings with nearly 250 community members in attendance and finally negotiated with RFP respondents to ensure the project reflected community input.
One year later, BP Adams, joined by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and Bedford Courts LLC, in partnership with local elected officials and community leaders, say they are moving forward with plans to activate the cavernous space as a multi-use building.
“Activating the Bedford Union Armory has been a labor of love, a truly community-driven process where the residents of Crown Heights have ensured their voices were heard,” said Adams. “In addition to generating scores of critically-needed affordable housing units in the heart of Central Brooklyn, the Bedford Union Armory will serve as an economic engine of opportunity as well as a beacon for the advancement of healthy living. ”
Bedford Courts will develop the armory on a long-term ground lease from the City into a residential building featuring over 300 units of housing, half of which will be affordable, and a commercial building containing a recreational facility, a community event space, and office space. Also, Bedford Courts is expected to utilize NYCEDC’s HireNYC program for disadvantaged workers, as well as commit to contracting goals for minority and women-owned business enterprises.
Carmelo Anthony and The Carmelo Anthony Foundation will assist with the fit-out of the recreational facility, which could include basketball courts, a swimming pool, and an indoor turf field: “This project hits close to home for me. We have a deep history in Brooklyn and I’m thankful to be able to give back by helping to offer more affordable housing and a community center in this neighborhood,” said Brooklyn native Carmelo Anthony, who lived the first eight years of his life in Red Hook Houses.
CAMBA will operate and provide associated programming for the recreational facility and community event space.
“After listening to the concerns of the community, I feel that we will be getting all that we asked for,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo. “I am pleased that CAMBA, a Brooklyn non-profit with a proven track record of providing holistic programs to a wide range of New Yorkers, will be operating the recreational facility and auditorium.”
The timeline for completion of the Bedford Armory’s renovation and unveiling still is being determined, as plans continue to undergo a community review process, said a spokesperson for BP Adams.