The city is poised to turn the Bedford-Atlantic Armory into a multi-use facility to include a state-of-the-art athletic and recreational center along with its continued use as a homeless shelter.
That after City Council member Letitia James and Speaker Christine Quinn allocated $2 million from the recently passed city budget to the project bringing a total of$14 million allocated to build the center.
The turnaround comes just three years after the Bloomberg Administration announced a plan to move the city Department of Homeless Services’ (DHS) intake center for homeless men from First Avenue and 28th Street in Manhattan to the Bedford-Atlantic shelter.
The plan drew a huge protest from the Crown Heights community including the Crown Heights Revitalization Movement (CHARM), the former Congressman Major Owens-led Medgar Evers Coalition and others.
This led to Borough President Marty Markowitz championing the cause, and ultimately the Bloomberg Administration putting in $10 million for the renovation.
“As I first proposed in my 2009 State of the Borough Address at the beautiful new Park Slope Armory (now a multi use recreational facility and homeless shelter), there is absolutely no reason why the residents of Northern Crown Heights should not have the very same community amenities as those available in Park Slope and other neighborhoods,” said Markowitz, whose office put in the other $1 million.
Built in the 1890s originally to house a National Guard regiment that was organized during the Civil War, the Bedford-Atlantic Armory, like many in the city, was ultimately turned into a homeless shelter.
However, some, like the Fort Washington Armory in Washington Heights, were also turned into tracks. The latest of these is the YMCA-run sports complex in Park Slope, which saw millions of dollars in public investment and now boasts fitness classes, yoga classes, tennis, basketball, karate, and track and field.
Among the possibilities being looked at for the Bedford-Atlantic Armory includes a space for banquets and graduations, performing arts practice and classes, a swimming pool, an indoor track and field facility; basketball, volleyball and handball courts.
“This is important to all of Central Brooklyn because of the lack of athletic facilities and children to engage in constructive activity,” said James. “It’s important to note the homeless will not be displaced.”
James said the renovation is on the drill floor itself and not the homeless shelter, which is in the front of the building.
A well-placed source said a few legal hurdles still have to be cleared, but the process for turning the facility into a recreation center will start soon.