On July 9, 2021, the winning proposal to redevelop 7.2 acres of the Kingsboro Psychiatric Center campus in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York City was announced. The redevelopment will include 900 affordable homes, ample public green space, a full-sized basketball court, areas for urban farming, a greenhouse, and dedicated space for community empowerment programs.
It’s part of the state’s $1.4 billion Vital Brooklyn revitalization initiative, which targets and invests in eight integrated areas, including health care and housing, establishing a new standard for addressing chronic economic and racial disparities in Brooklyn’s high-need communities.
New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “The historic economic disadvantages in Central Brooklyn’s neighborhoods are matched by equally long-standing health disparities. This new $400 million, 900-apartment development on the Kingsboro Psychiatric Center Campus, part of Governor Cuomo’s $1.4 billion Vital Brooklyn initiative, gives us an unprecedented opportunity to continue to break down barriers to quality affordable housing and directly encourage the creation of stronger, healthier, more interactive and sustainable communities. This is how New York leads in the fight for equality, health, decent housing, and opportunity.”
The more than $400 million project includes approximately 900 units of affordable and supportive housing, and senior housing; opportunities for homeownership; and two state-of-the-art homeless shelters, replacing the existing, aging shelters originally built in the 1930s.
The redevelopment will create 3700 construction jobs and more than 200 permanent jobs for area residents. The project proposal achieves 30% towards the New York State’s nation leading certified MWBE goals.
Amenities include free high-speed Wi-Fi, exercise rooms, a 10,000-square-foot grocery store, a 7,000-square-foot community hub with computers and classroom space for after-school programs and workforce development training, performance space and community empowerment programs.
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner, and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, “Governor Cuomo’s commitment to bold and comprehensive community-based economic development strategies like the Vital Brooklyn initiative has provided a strong foundation for New York’s recovery from the global pandemic. The $400 million partnership created to develop housing, open spaces, community facilities and programs on the seven-acre Kingsboro site will deliver thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of permanent employment positions, while also ensuring local and long-term economic progress for neighborhood residents and businesses in the heart of Brooklyn.”
In August 2020, Empire State Development—in collaboration with New York State Homes and Community Renewal—requested proposals to bring a modern, mixed-use wellness-oriented development to the campus of the Kingsboro Psychiatric Center, one of Brooklyn’s largest health institutions.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said, “The redevelopment of a portion of Kingsboro Psychiatric Center will bring more affordable housing to a community that desperately needs it, and the opportunities for healthier and greener living. As someone who has long promoted the need to overhaul our local food system, I am particularly glad to see that this project will include urban farming opportunities to connect people to the healthy foods and activities. I thank the State for this partnership, and look forward to continuing to advance the needs of Brooklynites living in underserved communities.”
The winning proposal presented the most comprehensive vision for this prime property in East Flatbush, with affordable housing and a set-aside for permanent supportive housing units and shelter beds.
Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, Chair of the Assembly Housing Committee, said, “This winning proposal addresses the urgent need for affordable, supportive and senior housing units and home ownership opportunities all in one location, but it accomplishes something even more exciting — it creates an all-encompassing community where social, recreational, educational, health care and other everyday needs will be met. Developments like this demonstrate the importance of thinking broadly and creatively as we work to fulfill our mission to create more affordable housing across our State.”
The redevelopment project will be led by Almat Urban, Breaking Ground, Brooklyn Community Services, the Center for Urban Community Services, Douglaston Development, Jobe Development, and the Velez Organization. The design team includes internationally-acclaimed Adjaye Associates and Harlem-based Studio Zewde. Jobe Development and the Velez Organization are certified MWBEs.
Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel said, “Housing is a human right and I thank Governor Cuomo for acknowledging inequalities within the system. Dedicating this underused land to housing and community enrichment will benefit Brooklyn in countless ways. We are excited to watch these plans bloom in real time.”
Revitalizing Central Brooklyn
Central Brooklyn has long suffered from disinvestment and marginalization that hinder the wellbeing of its residents. 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.
Brenda Rosen, President and CEO of Breaking Ground, said, “We couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with the State of New York, the Central Brooklyn community and all elected officials involved on this truly unique community development project. The Kingsboro development will further the goals of The Vital Brooklyn Initiative by providing both public and private community spaces, a diverse array of housing solutions, supportive services and vibrant economic development uses to continue to bolster the fabric of the surrounding neighborhood. Our team is committed and looks forward to working with ESD, HCR, and the community to bringing this project to fruition.”
Central Brooklyn is also affected by wide economic disparities due to unemployment, high poverty levels, and inadequate access to high quality health care.
This announcement adds to nine winning proposals that will advance the Vital Brooklyn initiative’s commitment to creating 4,000 affordable homes in Central Brooklyn. Past winners incorporated social, medical, and community services; recreational and educational opportunities; family housing; and apartments with supportive services.
“The COVID-19 pandemic further exposed the inequalities among the state’s at-risk and in-need communities, including a fundamental need for safe and affordable housing,” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said. “Through the Vital Brooklyn initiative, we are better addressing these needs by transforming underutilized land on the Kingsboro Psychiatric Center campus into a community-oriented development that provides housing and programming to better serve those in-need, building New York back better, fairer and stronger for all.”
Governor Cuomo launched the Vital Brooklyn Initiative in spring 2017 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.
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.
Renderings courtesy of Adjaye Associates.