An Athletic Center for the Atlantic Armory?

There’s no reason for Park Slope to be running circles around Crown Heights—at least as far as the neighborhoods’ respective armories are concerned. That’s the case Councilwoman Letitia James has been making lately by saying the armory on Bedford and Atlantic, which currently houses a men’s homeless shelter, should be revamped with a youth-oriented athletic center a la the Park Slope armory’s recent renovation. James stumped for the idea when she met with Deputy Mayor Patti Harris last week and is also trying to rally broader community support for the proposal. The councilwoman envisions a track-and-field facility aimed at young adults that would further benefit the community by improving the area’s social milieu. It’s offensive to me to drive by Atlantic and Bedford and see all the panhandlers outside, she says. It’s an eyesore.
The Future of the Atlantic Armory? [Brownstoner]
Last Lap for Park Slope Armory Renovation [Brownstoner]

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  • please, oh please make this happen. that building is amazing – it deserves to be used in a way that benefits everyone in the community better. just look at the great success of the newly beautified bed stuy y…

  • Not a bad idea but hopefully more than just track and field.

  • I will support Tish on this one. I only live 2 blocks from here. I’m told this is the site of the largest men’s shelter in the city. A dubious honor, although considering the number of clients they serve, and the all day panhandlers notwithstanding, the people who run the shelter are doing an amazing job. It could be much, much worse on the streets nearby.

    That said, this would be an amazing community space for all kinds of activities. I’ve done some research on the armory for a walking tour of CHN, and this building is amazing. (It is an individual NYC landmark, BTW.) They used to sponsor community organization and church based athletic clubs, and Brooklyn and all-city track and field events, marching band competitions, and other althletic competitions were commonplace here. The 23rd Regiment also sponsored dances, dinners and social events. A dinner dance with the officers of the 23rd was considered quite the ticket for an eligible young lady of good standing.

    The building is enormous, taking up an entire city block. The shelter, even as it exists now, does not take up the entire space. Creative minds could certainly come up with a way of making this amazing building a part of the larger community, instead of a pariah. It would be better to have events to save a kid’s life, than just provide a cot when that kid drops out of society.

  • But, but I thought that Tish was such a fierce advocate for the poor. Where will the homeless people go, especially those that are fresh out of jail?

    I guess that Tish, with her car and Ft. Greene townhouse, does not really care about poor people. Her quote sounds more like a yuppie than the “down with the people” stance she loves to adopt once the TV cameras appear.

    Having said that, I would love for this plan to go through. This is a beautiful building and would serve the community well in another form.

    Crown Heights Yuppie

  • Where do homeless people go whenever they are displaced? Somewhere else.

  • MM implies that there may be unused capacity, in which case it may be possible to retain the shelter AND have new community recreation space.

  • Homeless people need shelter. I’m sure Tish would be the first to advocate that. There is enough room in this place to have a shelter, and still have room for an enormous space designed for the community. I may be wrong, but I think the armory on Jefferson Ave in Bed Stuy functions as both.

    Crown Heights (and Bed Stuy) are oversaturated with shelters, drug rehab clinics, half way houses, and other facilities. They are all necessary in a civilized society, but they don’t have to all be right here. Other communities need to share in the care of people who are from all communities. We just got another state run live-in facility approved for another of our prime residential blocks. Enough is enough. We don’t need the distinction of having the largest men’s shelter in the city. We can take care of our share of those who need help, and let other neighborhoods step up to the plate. This is not NIMBY on our part, or on Tish’s part. We are already AIOBY – all in our backyard.

    Let’s do something the entire community can share in. Reuse of most of, or all of, the Armory would be an amazing boost for Crown Heights North.

  • They put the social service facilities in the areas where they are needed.
    I’d guess there arent that many former Brooklyn Heights residents who are homeless and I’d also guess that the number of Park Slope felons who get released to halfway houses is relatively tiny.

  • Granted, although not exactly a quid pro quo system here. The mentally ill, substance abuse and battered women’s shelters certainly cut through all segments of society. Please don’t try to imply that poorer communities “deserve” to have a disproportionate number of facilities in our areas. That just ain’t so.

  • Actually while your correct that mental illness, domestic abuse and substance abuse cut through all segments of society, there prevelance and effects are more pronounced in poorer areas; and most importantly for this issue – GOVERNMENT facilities required to address these problems are far more necessary and utilized by poorer constituents. (By way of example – Lindsay Lohan may be a white drug abuser but she goes to a private facility in Utah not a Govt sponsored one in Bushwick)

  • Wow- I can’t believe I’m agreeing with Tish James for once… What is the world coming to?

  • So because wealthier people can afford to go to private facilities, their neighborhoods shouldn’t bear the societal responsibility of having both public and private facilities? Because it’s not just government facilities that are in our neighborhoods, we have private ones too.

    Might I add that those of us in poorer neighborhoods still pay taxes, and are still supposed to be equal citizens in this great republic. Not everyone in Brooklyn Hts who is mentally ill goes to a sanitarium in the Berkshires, any more than every homeless man in the 23rd Regiment Armory lives in Crown Heights.

    One might also comment that Lindsay Lohan might do better at the Bushwick facility, her swank private vacation spot hasn’t been too effective. This only highlights that substance abuse, like all of society’s ills, is complicated, and not easily treated. Perhaps spreading out facilities, having smaller shelters, drop in centers, etc, spread out where all who need them, from all neighborhoods, would be much more of a good use of our tax dollars than dumping everyone into already underserved and underfunded neighborhoods.

  • I hope that they will build some housing for the shelter and rehabilitate this building.

  • I am not saying that some placement might not have to do with political power but the main reason for this seemingly uneven placement has to do with the constituents being served (please provide one example of a facility in the Crown Heights/Bed-Stuy/Brownsville area that is serving people ‘shipped’ in from distant areas).

    If you are from Bed-Stuy and you are homeless and they shipped you off to some other distant area for shelter, people would complain they were warehousing the homeless away from their neighborhoods and families.

    Also there is an economic reality too – if you want to effectively treat mental illness does it make sense to spend 10x as much on rent/land costs vs. treatment?

    And again – the vast vast majority of the facilities in the neighborhoods described (public or private) are serving the people in those areas (obviously not block by block). The “private” facilities you refer are generally non-profits and funded through govt assistance programs, Medicade, SSI and other similar grants.

    As for Lindsay Lohan, I promise no matter how much coke she puts up her gorgeous little nose – she will NEVER be in a treatment facility whose placement was dictated by the city, state or Federal govt.

  • The Seventh Regiment Armory at 67th and Park in Manhattan is an interesting case. Very ritzy high-end antiques shows are held there and there is also a shelter for homeless women run by Lenox Hill Neighborhood House. The building is currently being renovated.

  • Good point, 3:35. Poor neighborhoods like Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights will surely have a higher proportion of homeless folks. It makes sense to house and treat them in their own communities, not ship them off to some distant area. It’s interesting that many are so quick to claim the poor when advocating for affordable housing, yet quick to call for their removal when their various social and psychological problems create an “eyesore” for bourgeois politicians.

  • I have spoken to some of the inhabitants of this shelter and they say its an absolute misery inside and that they would rather sleep in the street than in the shelter except in the worst weather conditions. It seems that theshelter is not doing its job very well.

    Further, i have to agree with some of the other posters, this is a huge building. Its totally and completely beautiful and the community would really be better served if it was converted into something that actually serves the community (meaning the people who live in the surrounding area). The residents of the shelter are often sent there from other parts of town–a good portion of them aren’t actually from the community–which is probably why a good portion of them do not have any respect for the community. The amount of trash and other nastiness laying around outside that shelter (presumably left by the shelterees but I am making an assumption) and the cat calling and harassment inflicted on passersby are evidence that there is no respect for the services being provided to them. Personally, my vote is for a smaller shelter in the building that is better maintained (and not a place where the homeless avoid–it defeats the purpose)and a large community center for athletics, events and whatnot. Maybe incorp something that creates jobs and rehbilitation for the homeless within the center. let’s make the center productive instead of a dreaded last resort.

  • This is a shelter for single men, acknowledged by all to house the homeless that are thrown out of other facilities and are housed as a last resort, plus their victims who are so screwed up that they can’t advocate for themselves. It does no good for struggling families that need shelter to have this in their neighborhood.

  • no one wants that shelter in their neighborhood. The reason the city uses armories instead of building facilities is that no neighborhood would let it get built nearby.

    Also, this stuff affects poor neighborhoods more because wealthy neighborhoods are better able to fight against it. There are some notorious shelters in rich neighborhoods. there’s a halfway house for mentally ill (of something along those lines) in Bklyn heights that drives everyone crazy. If you ask the police in the district, they all know about it b/c they get tons of calls from it.

    None of us are urban planner. How to build facilities to serve the needs of clients w/o impacting the neighborhood is an extremely difficult problem.

  • “If you are from Bed-Stuy and you are homeless and they shipped you off to some other distant area for shelter, people would complain they were warehousing the homeless away from their neighborhoods and families.”

    We aren’t talking about shipping the homeless to Siberia, or even Watertown, NY, we are entertaining the concept of having a shelter in say….Park Slope, or BoCoCa, hardly the ends of the earth. And as HomeSweetStuy and rf point out, many of the men at this particular shelter are indeed from out of the community. Also, they aren’t likely to have family or visitors. Unfortunately, they are probably quite alone, which is part of the reason they are homeless and in this last ditch shelter.

    Long story short, I agree that in this case, for this armory, a smaller shelter, and larger community usage would be able to serve the entire community, and would be a great asset to Crown Heights.

    Has anyone actually been in here?

  • They put the social service facilities in the areas where they are needed.
    I’d guess there arent that many former Brooklyn Heights residents who are homeless and I’d also guess that the number of Park Slope felons who get released to halfway houses is relatively tiny.

    If that is the case why are all the prisons upstate, and why are they filled with prisoners from downstate?

  • Good point, 12:01. Let’s move all of the upstate prisons into Crown Heights, Bed Stuy, Brownsville and ENY. I’m for it.

  • I am sure a track and field/athletic facility will be great for the kids in the neighborhood. You can’t have a track and field facility just anywhere – it works here.

  • I am sure a track and field/athletic facility will be great for the kids in the neighborhood. You can’t have a track and field facility just anywhere – it works here.