On July 21, 2020, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced plans for Clarkson Estates, the latest winning redevelopment proposal under the Vital Brooklyn revitalization initiative, which will construct 291 affordable and supportive apartments in the Flatbush neighborhood.
The $1.4 billion Vital Brooklyn initiative targets and invests in eight integrated areas, from health care to housing, establishing a new standard for addressing chronic economic and racial disparities in Brooklyn’s high-need communities.
“As the pandemic creates significant hardships for New Yorkers, it’s more important than ever that we expand access to safe, affordable housing during these difficult times,” Governor Cuomo said.
“This project is going to result in nearly 300 new affordable and supportive housing units that will help hundreds of our friends and neighbors in Central Brooklyn, and the State will continue to find ways to support the New Yorkers who need it most as we address the unprecedented challenges of today,” he added.
Clarkson Estates, which is being developed by CAMBA Housing Ventures, will have 291 affordable apartments for families and individuals and half of the apartments—146 units—will be set aside for youth aging out of foster care, formerly incarcerated individuals, and formerly homeless young adults.
New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said “Clarkson Estates is a truly exciting development that will bring 291 affordable homes and a massive 30,000 sq. ft. comprehensive one-stop neighborhood resource center to the Flatbush community. The on-site supportive services offered by CAMBA will help 146 households at risk of homelessness access healthcare, job training, and childcare inside their own building. With the ongoing devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are so grateful to Governor Cuomo, our elected officials and partners for moving this project forward which will help bridge the gap in resources in Central Brooklyn.”
The on-site supportive services offered by CAMBA will be supplemented by an extensive network of benefits available to the larger community in the development’s 30,000-square-foot “HUB”. Many of the Community HUB’s facilities will be open to the public and help encourage community engagement.
Resources that will be available at the HUB include:
- Childcare services;
- Health screening center;
- Small business services incubator and workforce training;
- Violence prevention and mediation center;
- Youth education and development center;
- Technology training center that includes adult education and financial literacy classes;
- Recording and rehearsal studio, and performance space;
- Full-sized basketball court for general community use and access, competitive basketball leagues, and community events;
- Food pantry and café; and
- Design studio and exhibition space
The HUB will be named for and dedicated to the memory of Dr. Roy A. Hastick, a gifted, caring and visionary business leader who passed away from COVID-19 in April. Dr. Hastick devoted his time to the health of the community in Brooklyn and the Caribbean diaspora, founding the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (CACCI) and convening more than 600 small business seminars to benefit the community.
The Hastick Family said “Dr. Roy A. Hastick Sr., was a man of great wisdom with a spirit of giving and a calling to help others. Everything he created and implemented was always for the advancement of his community. His community was defined by wherever he was at the moment. It is only fitting that this intergenerational community hub would bear his name. It is the hope of our family that every individual who benefits from this project will adopt the same attributes which he espoused and give back to our community which will help to make it better. Thank you, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Commissioner/CEO RuthAnne Visnauskas, Assemblywoman Diana Richardson, Senator Zellnor Myrie and the Flatbush community for remembering the life, work and legacy of our dear husband, father and community leader.”
Clarkson Estates will be constructed on a parcel called “Site L” which is land currently owned by Health Science Center at Brooklyn Foundation. The building will also include an underground parking garage with 80 parking spaces for use by residents and people utilizing the community facilities at the HUB.
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler added “The employment opportunities and financial literacy initiatives provided at the Community HUB at Clarkson Estates not only reflect Governor Cuomo’s commitment to bottom-up, community-based economic development strategies, but also will honor Dr. Roy Hastick and guarantee that his life’s work lives on in the Brooklyn communities to which he was dedicated.”
On-site amenities for residents will include laundry rooms, supportive services and case management spaces, fitness room, a training kitchen, library, computer room, bike storage, and a community room. In addition, there will be a CSA drop-off point for fresh fruits and vegetables for residents and a Health and Homes Screening Center to provide nurse visits and health screenings.
In addition, Clarkson Estates qualifies for Enterprise Green Communities Certification, and meets the standards of the ENERGY STAR multifamily high-rise program to satisfy Climate Bond Initiative requirements. The development’s green roofs and solar panels contribute to community and individual health. Residents and visitors will also be provided free Wi-Fi, which is a hallmark of the Vital Brooklyn initiative’s commitment to increasing internet access across Central Brooklyn.
The complex’s active design elements include outdoor spaces for gardening, children’s play area, and passive recreation as well as outdoor fitness programming. Full-length windows and glazing throughout the building will bring light into the common areas, and art and color will enhance the stair wells encouraging residents to exercise. The outdoor space on the ground floor in the rear of the building will include a landscaped courtyard with a serenity garden, a wooded walk, a turf field, communal seating, and a children’s play area.
The rooftop terrace and community garden will have space for communal gathering and gardening. The building has staggered three-foot recesses to provide planting and seating along the street, and to activate the pedestrian walkway. Trees will be planted throughout.
Senator Zellnor Myrie explained “The impact of COVID on our communities, especially my district, has exacerbated the issues that far too many residents struggle with – namely housing, health care, social services, and access to commerce and recreation. Clarkson Estates will help our most vulnerable citizens recover from this pandemic and create generational change for Central Brooklyn. I want to thank Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Visnauskas and her team at HCR, and our many partners who are making this project a reality.”
Central Brooklyn is one of the most disadvantaged areas in all of New York State. Residents experience measurably higher rates of health problems; limited access to healthy foods or opportunities for physical activity; and high rates of violence and crime. Central Brooklyn is also affected by wide economic disparities due to unemployment, high poverty levels, and inadequate access to high quality health care.
Joanne M. Oplustil, CAMBA/CAMBA Housing Ventures, Inc. President/CEO, said, “CAMBA Housing Ventures, Inc. and CAMBA, Inc. are honored and grateful to be awarded Site L/329 Clarkson Avenue, as part of this second round of the Vital Brooklyn Initiative. The community’s needs for expanded options for healthcare access, permanently affordable housing, local food and outdoor spaces have never been more evident. The vision for this development is to create equitable housing opportunities that in turn create a more equitable future for Flatbush. Housing is fundamental to stability and with this sustainable, affordable and supportive development, we aim to provide the community with better resources for a better tomorrow.”
This announcement adds to six winning proposals previously announced by the Governor in November 2018, December 2019 and January 2020. Together, these developments will advance the Vital Brooklyn initiative’s commitment to creating 4,000 affordable homes in Central Brooklyn. Each of the winning proposals incorporates social, medical, and community services; recreational and educational opportunities; and apartments and supportive services for the developmentally disabled, individuals aging out of foster care, and chronically homeless families.
The Governor launched the Vital Brooklyn Initiative in spring 2017 in order to address the range of disparities that affect residents of Brooklyn and to create a new model for community development and wellness in Brooklyn’s most vulnerable communities.
Assembly Member Diana Richardson said, “One of the most critical challenges we face in Central Brooklyn is ensuring our residents have access to safe and affordable housing. The COVID crisis has hit our community the hardest and laid bare the inequities in our healthcare system and social safety net. The Vital Brooklyn initiative seeks to address these systemic issues by creating affordable and sustainable developments like The Clarkson Estates. This project is unique because we will bring not only desperately needed affordable housing to our community but a state of the art community facility space. The Dr. Roy A. Hastick Sr. Community Hub will provide a multitude of services including childcare, workforce development, and a small business incubator. I want to thank Commissioner Visnauskas and her team at HCR for their diligent work and most importantly, the residents of the 43rd Assembly District for their input and support throughout this process. Our partnership with Governor Cuomo will create a landmark project that will have a lasting impact on our community for decades to come.
The Governor then charged each Assembly Member in Central Brooklyn with convening a Community Advisory Council consisting of community leaders, local experts, advocates, and other stakeholders to consider the unique needs and opportunities in their districts, and to develop long-term solutions. State Senators representing parts of Central Brooklyn were also actively engaged in the process. A total of 25 community meetings brought together nearly 100 key community stakeholders.
Image courtesy of CAMBA/CAMBA Housing Ventures, Inc.