13 Stories of Apartments, Condos, and Rec Center Planned for Bedford Union Armory in Crown Heights

Aerial rendering of the Bedford Union Armory, rendering by Jonathan Marvel ArchitectsAerial rendering of the Bedford Union Armory by Marvel Architects

The city’s Economic Development Corporation held a press conference today to reveal plans for the century-old Bedford Union Armory at 1555 Bedford Avenue in Crown Heights, which will get 13 stories of rental apartments, a recreation center, community event space and commercial space.

“We’re happy to announce the building will retain its historic structure,” said EDC president Marisa Torres-Springer. “Today, tomorrow and every day, we will have a project that has something for everyone, in this armory that started as community bedrock.” 

The EDC and a team of developers plan to expand the structure to 515,000 square feet and redevelop the eastern portion, which is currently used as a parking garage, into a new residential building. It will have 330 apartments, 166 of which will rent for below-market rates.

More specifically, 18 apartments will rent to families making 37% of the Area Median Income, or $31,931 for a family of four; 48 units will rent to households earning 47% AMI, or $40,561 for a four-person family; and 100 units will be set aside for families making 110% AMI, or $94,930 for a family of four. The rest of the apartments will be market-rate.

And former horse stables on the President Street side of the building will become 24 condos, five of which will be affordable, according to an EDC spokesman. The city plans to sell the condo part of the property to the development team, and the developers will sign a 99-year-lease with the city on the rest of the property.

An arched hallway at the Bedford Union Armory

An arched hallway at the Bedford Union Armory

The 138,000-square-foot building was built for Troop C, a calvary unit, in 1903 and used by the military until 2011, when its 130 soldiers were relocated to Fort Hamilton. The city acquired the vacant property between Union and President Streets in 2013 and released an RFP to revamp the building later that year.

BFC Partners and Slate Property Group will develop the project, and New York Knicks player Carmelo Anthony is contributing money to the recreational facility through his charitable organization, the Carmelo Anthony Foundation. Marvel Architects will be responsible for the design.

“We’ve seen displacement and escalating prices, and we are looking at this as an opportunity for smart, community-involved development,” explained Slate Property Group principal David Schwartz.

The main part of the armory’s iconic, domed building will remain, becoming the new recreation center. The facility will feature a pool, basketball courts, and an indoor turf field, as well as a 500-seat auditorium and office space for local non-profit organizations. Medgar Evers College, which is located a block south on Bedford Avenue, will occupy of the non-profit space. CAMBA, a non-profit affordable housing developer and social services group based in Flatbush, will run the new rec center.

The main hall of the Bedford Union Armory

The main hall of the Bedford Union Armory

Out of the 515,000-square-foot-development, the condos will occupy 55,000 square feet, and the new rental building will span 360,000 square feet. The commercial, community and recreation space will fill another 100,000 square feet, mostly fronting Bedford Avenue and part of President Street.

“I grew up in a time where most of the places where young people in Brooklyn would congregate were closing,” said Councilmember Laurie Cumbo. “The people in [Ebbets Field and Tivoli Towers] keep saying we need someplace for the young people to go.

The public review process for the development is set to begin in September 2016, and the developers hope to begin work in the summer of 2017.

Street level rendering of the Bedford Union Armory by Jonathan Marvel Architects

Street level rendering of the Bedford Union Armory by Marvel Architects

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3 Comments on "13 Stories of Apartments, Condos, and Rec Center Planned for Bedford Union Armory in Crown Heights"

  1. Bedford armory plans best i have read in a long time.

  2. In the Bronx we are getting 8 ice skating rinks in Kingsbridge armory. What sense does that make?

  3. Evelyn Tully Costa | December 19, 2015 at 3:23 pm |

    Marvel Architects needs to show us some marvelous design NOT the prison revival style depicted here. EDC needs to go back to the drawing board on this entire proposition which sets up the community end for failure due to lack of sustainable revenue stream. 50% of the income generating space of the Armory is being privatized for 24 condos (which some pretty hideous inappropriate architecture basically disfiguring the 1907 Art Nouveau Treasure which is as important as Grand Central Station to our community and this city) So they dissed the community and the building on that one. 99 year lease is also an effect “sale” which privatizes public space again handing over communal (we own this building folks but have no control despite contracts with teeth which can always be wiggled out of). SOLUTIONS: Move ALL housing to the Garage. NO SALE of ANY OF TIHS SPACE to developers except maybe garage lot. BUILD BEAUTIFULLY which means hire a classically trained architect who actually knows something about grace and elegance and shows RESPECT for the Landmark worthy Armory. Relieve developers of the burden of managing a community center which is NOT what they do. Form Conservancy which will manage ENTIRE head house to create REAL jobs with NYSERDA renewable energy hubs, commercial rentals, fully integrated harvest systems, world class athletics (not three basket ball courts and 5 janitor jobs, REALLY?) education, culinary institutes using our world famous NYC chef and food biz stars, IT training, biz incubators etc..again, We are talking MILLIONS in guaranteed revenues, BUT we need the real estate back. oh and NO destruction of the incredible fencing hall for an unnecessary auditorium. Medgar Evers shares theirs so we’re good. OR let’s partner with some of the amazing old theaters that are now churches and get our community auditoriums that way. SOOOO: Developers to the back lot , HISTORICALLY ACCURATE architecture (PSST You’ll make MORE money with better design, I’ll help if you’re struggling with that concept) and CONSERVANCY to run ENTIRE head house and drill hall for OUR CROWN HEIGHTS TOWN SQUARE. The current proposal is a pretty anemic rough draft and sells the community (both biz, non profit and government) SHORT. Let’s get this right. We’ve got the right proposal and all the elected and EDC saw it. Otherwise we’ve got Kingsbridge Armory distaster heading our way!!!! Good luck!!!

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