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The Old Bedford Union Armory is Quickly Being Reimagined

The Armory is expected to be a community hub offering recreational facilities, educational programs and cultural centers
The Bedford Union Armory is now preparing to house nonprofit groups. Photo Credit: FLICKR

As New York returns from life on pause, construction is quickly ramping up at the old Bedford Union Armory, reports NY 1.

The Armory opened in 1908 and housed stables and offices for cavalry troops. The space was later decommissioned and turned over to BFC Partners to develop as a community hub in Crown Heights, offering recreational facilities and educational opportunities, including STEM instruction by the nonprofit group Digital Girl.

"This will be our home base. It will have our technology center. We'll have a lab," Digital Girls Inc Board President Toni Robinson said.

The nonprofit hopes to close the digital divide in central Brooklyn by bringing computer instruction and workforce training to homes that lack computer access. The new space will allow for a vast expansion of community programs and hours.

"We used to use various schools and organizations," says Robinson. "So this will be great for us to have a dedicated space which will be a tech lab and open to the public so they could just come in surf the internet, look for jobs, and beef up their skills."

Digital Girl is just one of the Armory's expected seven nonprofit groups. Other groups include the James E. Davis Stop the Violence Foundation, the Brooklyn Community Pride Center, the West Indian American Day Carnival Association and the dance group Ifetayo.

"It'll act as a wellness center for mindfulness to yoga to boxing," Eric Woodlin, the director of community engagement, said. "And on the flipside would be the visual and performing arts. There will be an occasional art exhibit to a concert. There will be a theater presentation."

The project will also include over 400 new apartments, which is cause for upset among some community members wary of gentrification. Nevertheless, the project is moving forward with plans to implement heavy safety protocols until COVID-19 passes.

Developers say the Bedford Union Armory is on track for its scheduled November opening.