After two years in limbo, the city-owned Flatbush Caton Market may finally be redeveloped into affordable housing and a Caribbean business center.
During a press conference this morning, the city’s Economic Development Corporation announced plans to demolish the brightly colored building at 794 Flatbush Avenue in Flatbush and replace it with 10 stories of affordable apartments. The mixed-use project will include space for the market, a commercial kitchen for vendors, and offices and classrooms for the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACCI).
There will be 166 below-market apartments, which will rent to families at three different income levels. Twenty percent of the units will be set aside for households making less than 60 percent of the Area Median Income, 30 percent for families who earn 100 percent AMI, and 50 percent for households who make 130 percent AMI.
“Development is not displacement,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who may expect pushback on the project because half the units will be geared toward higher income residents. “Communities who have held down these neighborhoods before they were fancy and appealing have a right to be part of the branding of these communities. The popularity of the brand must be prosperity for everyone.”
The developer, BRP Companies, has promised to rent temporary space for the market’s 47 vendors while the building is under construction. BRP also plans to partner with Urbane Development to offer training on management skills and business development for small retailers. Meredith Marshall, co-founder and managing partner for BRP, explained that the project was important to him because he’d grown up in the area and was descended from Barbadian immigrants.
Clinton Hill-based Freeform + Deform Architecture is designing the building, which has been named Caton Flats. It will bring a modern, unusual feel to this largely pre-war part of Flatbush. The exterior will sport an interesting combination of brick, blue facade panels, and glass curtain wall, and the glassed-in retail along Flatbush Avenue will ensure that the building encourages activity on this bustling commercial corridor.
EDC officials can’t offer any details on when construction will begin, because the development still has to go through the six-month public approval process.
Caribbean vendors began selling their wares at an open air market nearby in 2000, and less than two years later, the city built a permanent home for them at the corner of Flatbush and Caton Avenues.
“The market has been a great asset for the community, for people who came to this country like all of us, to have a better life for themselves and their children,” said Councilmember Mathieu Eugene, whose council district includes Flatbush.