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The Repurposing of the Armory at Bedford and UNION — Brooklynian

The Repurposing of the Armory at Bedford and UNION

(not the Armory at Bedford and Pacific that houses the large homeless shelter)

The huge armory at Bedford and Union occasionally hosts a concert, but is underused. That will soon change....

What do you want it to become?

You could jabber about your ideas and listen to the ideas of others on Monday.



  • Is it underused? I thought that the film folks kept it pretty busy year round?

  • I see it empty on many occasions, and think people have dreams of making it a rec center.

    Getting the funding for such dreams will be difficult, but something I worth the effort if the support is there.

  • Tish and Marty are advertising this mtg, so a big part of me wonders whether we are about to be told what it will become, under the guise of gathering input.

    I can't fault them for not trying to get things done.

  • I have been wondering what was in that building for years as I drive past.....

  • Here's what folks want it to become:

    The Wall Street Journal reports on a community meeting last night in which residents discussed how the armory at Bedford Avenue and Union Street in Crown Heights might be repurposed in the future: “Potential projects proposed included a Chelsea Market-style development, a recreation center, a senior center and a small-business incubator for food production.” The city is in the process of taking control of the massive armory from the state following the end of a military instillation in the facility this summer. Many locals and neighborhood leaders are in favor of a renovation of the structure into a fitness facility a la the Park Slope Armory’s recent renovation into a track and gym operated by the Y. The question, of course, is whether there will be funding for an overhaul like the one in Park Slope, which cost $16 million and was funded by the mayor’s office, the City Council and the borough president’s office. The story quotes Marty Markowitz as saying “creative ways of financing” might need to be explored for the Bedford Armory, which we assume means “think public-private if you want to see anything ambitious here.”


    I've gotta admit, I think the commenter who thinks this may end up a flea market may be on to something.

  • NY1's got a report and some video of the space here:

    Suggestions included indoor track, after-school center, local archive, and Gotham Girls Roller Derby Arena.

    There was talk of putting a track/rec center in the Bedford-Atlantic Armory awhile back, but that seems to have fizzled.

  • Also, email [email protected] if you want to get a suggestion in to the NYU urban planning students who are prepping the report for Marty. It's all completely speculative at this point, of course, but that does mean there's plenty of time for an organized group of people to influence the process.

    I realize I'm basically just re-posting this post ( here, but it seemed worth repeating.

  • I'm interested in seeing what entity will run whatever it becomes.

    Medgar Evers College seems like a logical choice.

  • We were concerned about the status of the Bedford-Atlantic armory so we attended the meeting. Both Marty & Tish made a point of saying that plans were still very much in the works for a community center there, with Tish saying that there is 14 million for this project. Back in Spring 2010 when this was a "hot" topic CBAAR (Coalition for Bedford-Atlantic Armory Reform) was promised a seat at the table when planning for the Armory started. That summer we got a new Commissioner of Homeless Services and we have been waiting to see what happens with the proposed intake center. There will be an update to this effect at Tuesday's Crow Hill meeting

    FYI the mission of CBAAR is to reform the Bedford Atlantic Armory with the goal of improving the quality of life for all residents of Crown Heights North. We are committed to the following three positions

    1. There will be no intake center at the Bedford Atlantic Armory

    2. The Track & Field/Community Center will be developed responsibly with respect to the community that it will serve

    3. Conditions and opportunities for the current residents of the Armory will be improved.

  • btw: while we want to save our organizing/fundraising/community voice for the Bedford Atlantic Armory, the Armory at Union will be serving our community as well and we DO want to be involved in that discussion, if there are people who are interested in that process and you would like to represent the Crow Hill Community please get in touch, Thanks

  • One of the ideas was a senior center.

    I assume we wont actually require all of the local older adults attend any senior center that is created.

    As a result, I can't see a senior center taking up more than about 10% of the space in the armory.

  • edited May 2014

    BTW, NYU Wagner students created a comprehensive report on repurposing the Armory for Marty Markowitz this week.

    The pdf file exceeds Brooklynian's size limits, but I'll send you a copy via email if you PM me.

  • In order to attract non-profits and governmental agencies to the lowest income parts of the city, HRA takes over vacant city buildings and makes them Multi Service Ceters.

    This location is too large, and likely too well off to become exclusively a MSC. ...but it could become a combination MSC - Rec Center if there was the right mix of sponsors and providers.

  • Daily News says a Roller rink ? Seems kind of unimaginative, but inexpensive to build.

  • I think the roller rink idea is 100% nostalgia. People--myself included--really loved Empire Roller Rink. But apparently there's only one indoor rink in the entire city, so maybe there's demand?

  • The space is large enough that it could be divided into two floors. A rent paying store (Target, Walmart, Pathmark, etc) could rent the first floor and the profit could be used to subsidize the second floor (gym, flea market, roller rink, etc).

    The Target would only get leases for a maximum of 5 years, that way the city could give them the boot if they didn't hold up their end of the deal.

  • I definitely wouldn't want a Target or any other big box store there. Even though it has frontage on Bedford, the Armory is located in a residential neighborhood and the influx of cars or people that a big box would bring would really impact those folks living on Union, President and Rodgers. I'd rather see a recreational facility which I think would be less intrusive to the surrounding community. I also question why it can't continue to serve as soundstage and/or rehersal space. There is apparently a fair amount of usage currently, and if that were made permanent, maybe it would attract supporting businesses to the area, plus encourage partnership with MEC.

  • Why couldn't the big national chain be a Crunch or Eqinox or something similar? The neighborhood needs a gym!

  • A high end gym would work, but does the neighborhood have a large enough population that would $upport such a gym? If not, could the gym be a specialized facility that attracted people from all over the city, who would fork out big money to use it on an occasional basis?

    The estimates to heat, cool and maintain the facility are around $1m a year. ...this exceeds the resources available from MEC or NYC Parks dept.

    We need something that generates some $. I don't think a flea market or a roller rink could pull it off.

    I don't know how much the film/concert people paid; they may have gotten a deal from NYS that is no longer possible now that building is owned by NYC.

  • I think the plan would work if you had multiple uses, similar to the Chelsea Piers setup. If you had a roller rink + bowling alley + gym/fieldhouse + rehersal space you could get multiple tenants in with multiple revenue streams. The problem comes from dedicating the entire facility to one use. But its more than big enough to accommodate multiple uses.

    Then you can have MEC paying for access. For example MEC pays an annual flat fee to allow MEC students access to gym facilities. Cheaper than the school building its own space then having to pay O&M on that space. The secret is to build each individual piece so that it is large enough to support the revenue stream it needs to bring in, but not so large that it needs to charge ridiculous amounts of money for use of the space. Building flexible space that can accommodate many options,with one or two specialized premium use spaces(swimming pool, roller rink,etc)might be the ticket.

  • edited October 2014

    Although not politically popular, I can think of another use that comes with a somwhat ok funding stream:

    Alternative to Incarceration.

    Some of the funds that are presently spent to jail people on Rikers Island for misdemeanors could be used to create a day reporting center that focused on GED, drug rehab, vocational skills, etc.

    Those who failed to report, or acted like pricks while at the center, would join their incarcerated peers at Rikers. I doubt the political obstacles could be overcome though....

  • 8 months later, the deal is done:

    Bedford and Union Armory-

    Has our outgoing Boro President made any progress at filling you?

  • I liked the term in the article "national rink per person" average. Who keeps statistics like that??? In any event, I would think if an ice rink is built on Bedford that it does better than the old Empire Rollerdrome in its last years.

  • I doubt the city could support TWO ice facilities of this variety.

    ...hopefully there are lots of entities interested in this, and Marty (soon Eric Adams) is negotiating the best deal.

  • i mean, now that the velodrome isn't happening in Brooklyn Bridge Park....

  • Today, July 12, there is an article announcing that a lead investor has been found for the Kingsbridge site.

    Part of me suspects they were able to attract investors as a result of them depending upon patronage from wealthy people in NJ, Manhattan and Westchester. would take a really long time to be able to get that investment back just from people who lived in the surrounding area.

    Do we need a plan that creates a "destination" like this, or could we create something that is inexpensive enough to be sustained by our rapidly changing neighborhood?

  • Update. Looks like the Armory is back to being a "possible" future rec center.

  • Nov 7: A RFP for the development of the Bedford - Union has just been released.

    Here we go!