Groundbreaking on $373 Million Initial Phase of Redevelopment at Brooklyn Developmental Center Now Underway, Will Create Nearly 600 Affordable Homes
Multi-Phase Community Development Part of the State's Vital Brooklyn Initiative To Address Economic Disparities in East New York
Renderings Available Here
Governor Hochul: "This is a new beginning for East New York, and I'm here to say it is long overdue. This community has been underserved and forgotten for so long, and now we start writing the wrongs of the past."
Hochul: "We want to build over 800,000 new units over the next decade because I believe that affordable housing, beautiful safe housing is a basic human right. And that right needs to be granted to more New Yorkers than we have right now. So here, this state, this place speaks to this, speaks to this. It's how we can reimagine and build a better, warm, equitable, more inclusive Brooklyn."
Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that construction has begun for the transformative $1.2 billion redevelopment of the former 27-acre Brooklyn Developmental Center property in Brooklyn's East New York neighborhood. The initial $373 million phase will create 576 affordable homes, a new 15,000-square-foot outpatient medical clinic, and 7,000 square feet of ground floor retail space. Once completed, the entire development, known as Alafia, will ultimately create more than 2,400 affordable homes in a walkable neighborhood with recreational spaces and access to community resources that promote health and wellness. Alafia is part of the State's Vital Brooklyn Initiative that is addressing chronic social, economic, and health disparities in Brooklyn's high-need communities.
VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks are available below:
Good morning, everyone. What a spectacular day. Are we fired up or what? This is a new beginning for East New York, and I'm here to say it is long overdue. This community has been underserved and forgotten for so long, and now we start writing the wrongs of the past. And I am here with some extraordinary individuals, people who have a real vision for this community.
And I want to, first of all, acknowledge Senator Roxanne Persaud for her leadership in driving these projects forward. And also, Nikki Lucas has joining us momentarily. She's on her way here. We'll be hearing from her at the end of the program. Also, RuthAnne Visnauskas, your daughter is here. Your daughter needs to hear how extraordinary her mom is because I know how teenage girls can get. She's not quite a teenager, but so now, you're just not sure your mom is really that cool. Your mom is transforming people's lives all over this state. She is making a profound difference. Let's give a round applause to our commissioner, RuthAnne Visnauskas. Lee Brathwaite, the Chairman and CEO of Apex. Lee, thank you for believing in our community. And Arlo Chase, the Senior Vice President of Real Estate and Development. You'll be hearing from them as well.
So, you saw what we all saw driving up here. Little bit of dirt, that's all right. You saw some progress. It wasn't that long ago we were here announcing the completion of a project just an October - $425 million project on this site. But this site is a reminder to all of us, it's not the buildings, it's not the dirt, it's not the abandoned facilities that matter. It's the people of Brooklyn and the people who deserve to live in world class, beautiful, supportive housing. And that is what we're talking about today. So, Brooklyn, people say it's the soul of the city. Oh, it has a lot of soul, but it's the people. It's not the place, it's the people. And they deserve so much more. And as Brooklyn rises, it doesn't matter if it's rising in some parts and others. If it doesn't rise everywhere, including East New York, then it doesn't matter at all.
We will not stop until every single community knows they matter to me personally as the Governor, but matter to the rest of the state. It's part of our destiny. It's part of our future. So, we want to make sure that the people who said, "Brooklyn is my home" - they've come from all over the world. Some of you lived here a long time, others of new arrivals that would make this place so fascinating. But we want to make sure that Brooklyn continues to be a place that people can afford to live, to work, to raise a family, and someday retire here. This past year, I put affordable housing front and center of our agenda.
My first State of the State, just a little less than a year ago, I said, "We have to be bold. We have to make up for the past." So, we proposed $25 billion in building 100,000 units of affordable housing over the next five years. That is the largest investment in affordable housing in our state's history. And I defy any other state to try and meet that one because that's a big one. Right, RuthAnne? It is huge. Huge is the word. So, we've also been talking about, not just in the context of what we did last year, but I've been giving another number of speeches about how we still have so much to catch up. People want to be here, which is great, but we've not kept up with the building to meet the demand. So, prices go up, people want to be here, deserve to be here, cannot afford to come here and live in a beautiful home that they deserve.
So, this is an ambitious goal. We're trying to put forth a plan that people kind of are stunned by but working with Mayor Adams and our partners in the legislature because we need to make some changes in our legislature as well, as well as the City Council. We want to build over 800,000 new units over the next decade because I believe, I believe that affordable housing, beautiful safe housing is a basic human right. And that right needs to be granted to more New Yorkers than we have right now.
So here, this state, this place speaks to this, speaks to this. It's how we can reimagine and build a better, warm, equitable, more inclusive Brooklyn. As I mentioned, in October, we announced a $425 million project, not a groundbreaking - groundbreakings are really nice, but the best is when you cut the ribbon and you open it up to people and the Fountains project is extraordinary, right adjacent to this site, so that speaks of what we can do. So, the naysayers just said, "Oh, it'll never happen here. Nobody cares" - things are already happening. But today, we're announcing the start of a $1.2 billion project known as Alafia that'll bring 2,400 affordable units to the community. That's extraordinary. 2,400 units. All affordable housing to this community. So, let's give that a round of applause.
And Alafia, Alafia means something. It means good health, blessing, and peace. And we're going to achieve all three of those objectives because that's what the name commands us to do. This is what this community deserves. And this will be a transformational project that'll have a profound impact on this long-forgotten neighborhood. But not just on, I'm trying to point out, it's not just on the physical structure, it's not just the buildings. It'll have a profound impact on the psychology of a community, how they view themselves, how they realize that we believe they matter, they have value and they deserve more. And all of a sudden people start saying, yeah, we do. We do matter.
This community matters, and this will transform people's lives for years to come. The first space, $373 million, will create 576 affordable housing units. And it'll be supportive housing as well. You know, time has been tough for people. Life is hard sometimes. Circumstances out of your control, and this pandemic was particularly harsh for people. People weren't able to get their mental health services, and a lot of people self-medicated, turning more to substance abuse, and they kind of spiraled out of control here. These are also God's children too. They deserve love and care, support and services. That's what the whole idea behind supportive housing is. Not just give you a home and say, here's the key, you're on your own. But to say some of you need that extra lift up. You need someone to guide you through the next chapter of your life. That's what we're doing here as well, and we'll continue that commitment to blend not just the housing, but supportive services to lift everyone up.
When I speak about the psychology, you cannot imagine what open green space does to the human spirit. That's what this project is going to bring as well. Space for the entire community to enjoy - over 7,000 square feet of retail. And of course, I'm a shopper, I said, "What kind of retail are we talking here?" And I said, "It's going to be culturally diverse, all kinds of food and markets, and make the community feel at home as well as extraordinary health care services." That's what people need. They won't have to go outside this community to get what they need to start building their lives back. And people have the behavioral health or developmental disabilities or intellectual disabilities, this is going to help them as well. So, we want to build a community where they can flourish and achieve independence because this was once the Brooklyn Developmental Center. We know the path that that went, but that still is a reminder that people came to the site to heal. Some of our new guests, our new residents are going to be in that category. We're going to help them heal. It's what we do. We're New Yorkers. We take care of other people.
So, this'll build on the legacy of the center's work, impactful work to help change people's lives, but also, we look toward the future. We care about the environment. You can make tremendous changes in protecting the environment for our children's future with the buildings we're building today. And that's why this project, and you'll hear more about this, residents will live in energy efficient buildings. It'll be healthier air quality, reduce carbon emissions and lower energy bills because of how they're going to build this. They'll have access to high-speed broadband because living without high-speed broadband is like living without air these days. People need it to survive. It's how you find out if there's a job out there that you want to apply for, how you help your kids apply for college or how you find out about a workforce development program, it's your connection to the rest of the world and we have to have it readily available. It is like air.
We're going to make sure everybody here can breathe that air. And also making it healthier, as I mentioned, the healthcare facility here will be second to none. People won't have to get on a bus and travel far to get good healthcare. They'll be able to get treated right here. And of course, all of you've heard me speak. You know how impatient I am. My first question is, "when's it done? When's it going to be done?" And I sit there with all my project managers, whether it's bold projects for the MTA and the Port Authority or projects like these, I say, "How we doing team? We moving ahead? We've hit some benchmarks? Can you shave off a few more months?" So, I'm going to be on top of this one, okay? You're going to see me; you're going to hear from me.
If you can shave off a few months because I cannot overstate how big this project is, what it means to me personally of what we're doing for our citizens, our residents, our family. Because this signifies the value of this community to the rest of the world. We know it here that the rest of the world is overdue in recognizing the beauty of the people who live here in East New York, and again, we know what they've been through. They've had worse health outcomes coming out of the pandemic and even before. I mean, the pandemic didn't cause this. It just put a spotlight on the scars and the scabs that were already there. We know how bad it was. They had higher rates of violence and crime. People had given up hope. We're going to give them an alternative now. And they did lack access to good quality air, healthcare. They had lack of access to employment, higher poverty levels. It's all real here. So, we can fix this. You fix the soul; the rest of the body will heal. That's what we're working on here. It's all about health and wellness and encouraging people to enjoy the outdoors. And take a walk over to Shirley Chisholm Park. I was there when it was dedicated. That is gorgeous. I travel all over the state. You have to realize this is spectacular, like you're transported into another world just in this community.
So, this community is special and I'm so excited that the era of changing everything, a new era for New York starts right here in East New York. And I want to thank our Senator Roxanne Persaud for all she has done as well. And I want her to come up and give you her reflections and how together we're going to make New York work for everyone starting here today. Senator Persaud.
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