Once known as the Troop C Armory, the Bedford-Union Armory has been part of the Crown Heights community for more than 100 years.
Located at 1579 Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn, the Bedford-Union Armory occupies nearly an entire city block between Bedford and Rogers Avenues and Union and President Streets. The site covers approximately 2.8 acres, with a footprint of 122,000 square feet.
First known as the Troop C Armory, the Armory was designed in 1903 by Pilcher, Thomas and Tachau and was constructed between 1904 and 1908. As its original name implies, the Armory was designed for Cavalry Troop C, and was also one of the first structures to result from the Armory Board of New York City’s requirement that armory designs be selected from “open design” competitions. While the chosen design was respectful of the traditional armory aesthetic – incorporating castle motifs such as a crenellated parapet – the Armory was also designed to accommodate an entire squadron in mounted drills, and provided stables with adequate light and ventilation for horses.
In addition to providing space for troops to train, store equipment, and spend off-duty time, the Armory included offices, a small gym, a rifle range and a swim tank. The cavalry’s stables included built-in horse troughs, a high, vaulted ceiling, and space to house, train and feed the unit’s horses.
While their primary role was for military use, armories such as this one have always played an important role in local communities, and, during peacetime, historically served as gathering places for neighborhood residents and sporting events.
The Armory was decommissioned for military use and the site was taken over by the City of New York in 2013. The Armory has been vacant and underused for years.
After the City of New York took over control of the Bedford-Union Armory in 2013, it directed the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) to issue a request for proposals for a redevelopment plan that would serve longstanding community needs, preserve historical character, incorporate sustainability and provide employment opportunities for local residents.
In December 2015, NYCEDC designated Bedford Courts LLC, an affiliate of BFC Partners, to redevelop the Bedford-Union Armory as part of a mixed-use project including recreational and community space and new mixed-income housing and office space. That development proposal was approved in November 2017 by the New York City Council as part of the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).