The screaming, the chanting, the bluster...all on display. Ultimately there's not really any support at CB9 for the current BFC Partners project to create a beautiful recreation center and community group space out of the Bedford-Union Armory - leastways not if there are going to be any market-rate "luxury" rentals or condos in the mix.
The fact is, this particular parcel belongs to us all, and it probably SHOULD go to house the poorest among us. Yep. Public Housing. The kind that gets such a bad rap, even though public housing has been a lifeline for millions of Americans through the last 100 years. Look it up. Heck, even Eastern Bloc countries saw fit to follow suit!
But you gotta ask yourself...will such a "better deal" ever materialize? As it is, a perfectly good GIANT community resource is actually nearly happening, and the funding is all set. It's been more than a decade in the making. Are we really going to walk away in hopes of a better bargain? And more to the point, will the community REALLY come out in support of Public Housing (cause dammit, that's what it is)? Or is this just a bunch of posturing? For some, like the Crown Heights Tenants Union, I think it's a very REAL issue. They're understandably fed up with the rent hikes and displacement and blatant racism and ageism, and they resent the very notion of market-rate anything going on public land. As to the not-so-few carpet-baggers, I can appreciate a good protest, but a lot of folks seemed to know absolutely nothing about this particular project. I suspect if NY Communities for Change issued a call to protest Mr. Softy for running a non-union truck, the orange-shirts would be out in a jiffy, with signs reading "No Justice, No Sprinkles!" The fact is, this process is a lot more nuanced than "kill the deal" can possibly explain. But we don't really DO discourse at CB9, so there it is, no 'splain, no gain.
I guess you could say the Q's a realist. Or, cynic. Depends on whose talking. But really now...am I to assume that everyone who lives near this potentially giant housing project is going to welcome his low-income brothers and sisters with loving arms? I certainly hope so. We'd be showing the City that we actually care about those least able to pay their bills.
But wait...isn't this the same community that wants nothing to do with a well-maintained and secure homeless shelter for families just down the block?
For those keeping score at home, here's what "the Community" seems to be saying. Give us a bunch of City subsidized housing (and it don't come cheap) for people making less than the actual median income ($38K for a family of 4 in Crown Heights). BUT, if those same people suddenly can't afford the roughly $800 - $900 month and become homeless, well, we sure as hell don't want them HERE.
To her credit, councilperson Laurie Cumbo was parked in the front row, and remained quiet as the battle raged. My considerable gut tells me she understands the nuances, and understands too that to favor this project is political death. She's come out against it and will likely win reelection as a result, and now she claims to want NO market rate housing. (When you want to emphasize the point, just call 'em "luxury condos.") But there's no hint of where the money will come from to build all this subsidized housing AND giant community center. Just a lot of hyperbole and bullying.
Lastly I'd just like to add what I always want to add to those who decry Developers out of hand. I'll bet Dollars to Donuts that the very home you're living in now was built by those nasty, greedy humans otherwise known as Developers. Yep. Even your fancy townhouses were the once much-derided tract housing of its day. Developers are builders. And even if they make a profit, you don't get housing without them. The City got out of that business a long time ago, and for good reason. The corruption alone cost a fortune. Sure you can hire a non-profit developer. And you're just as likely to get reamed, too, by a bunch of crooks and shysters and volunteer board members.
Maybe it's time to park those dollars in the Carver for a minute, eat a few of those donuts, and reconsider whether there IS some compromise to be made before we end up with a 500,000 square foot vacant lot til the next recession ends in, oh, 2030 or so.