City Announces Plans for Nearly 900 Affordable Homes and Technology Upgrades in Brownsville, Brooklyn

July 26, 2018

The City provides updates on commitments made in The Brownsville Plan, including development plans for over 880 affordable homes, and infrastructure upgrades

Proposals selected in the NYC Co-Lab Challenge will improve street safety with pedestrian-activated LED streetlamps and 3D art installments

Brooklyn, NY – New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer joined the Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (MOCTO), the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ), the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT), and the NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC) to announce several updates on commitments made in the Brownsville Plan, which include development plans for over 880 units to be built on three City-owned sites identified through the Brownsville Request for Proposals (RFP), as well as the installation of innovative, community-driven streetscape upgrades to improve public safety as identified through the NYCx Co-Lab Challenge: Safe and Thriving Nighttime Corridors. NYCx Co-Lab Challenges are open competitions co-developed by City agencies and community representatives to address the most pressing concerns of underserved New York City neighborhoods.

“The Brownsville Plan was designed to understand and capture the unique vision and voice of Brownsville residents to inform a holistic plan to revitalize the neighborhood. As a result of extensive community engagement, Brownsville will not only see over 880 high quality affordable homes rise from the ground, but also the vital community and commercial space that will promote opportunities for innovation, entrepreneurship, and healthy living created in direct response to the community’s wants and needs,” said HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer. “I thank all of our partners in the community as well as the many city agencies, and local elected officials who have each taken a hand in shaping the future of Brownsville for their dedication and support throughout this process.”

“HDC is proud to support the Brownsville plan through these comprehensive investments in much-needed affordable housing and dynamic retail, cultural, and community space,” said New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) President Eric Enderlin. “Congratulations to the selected development teams and all our partners who will join us in bringing innovative and tech-driven solutions to transform this neighborhood into a safer, more affordable, and cohesive community.”

“The NYCx Co-Lab in Brownsville has allowed us to make huge strides in understanding the needs of residents and introduce new tools and tech that can improve everyday life,” said Alby Bocanegra, Interim CTO, Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer. “We’re excited to see these pilots help increase nighttime safety in the neighborhood while also bringing art installations that everyone can enjoy. These pilots are a great example of how tech can directly improve and enhance the public realm.”

 “Public safety is about engaged residents building safe and vibrant neighborhoods. With the NYCx Co-Lab in Brownsville, the abundant creative and technological talent in our city is on full display showing how we can co-produce public safety by inviting people to interact with their environments and their neighbors,” said Elizabeth Glazer, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice

"From the beginning of the Brownsville redevelopment process, our colleagues at HPD have made great efforts to build collaborations with numerous city agencies and community stakeholders," said Tom Finkelpearl, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs. "It's rewarding to see meaningful integration of art and culture - which is essiential to growing healthy, thriving neihborhoods - into these projects, from the creative hub of the BACA cultural center to the safety-enhancing public art installations."

“Addressing longstanding inequities in health requires collaboration between city agencies, community-based organizations, and residents among other stakeholders,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. ”The First Annual Update to the Brownsville Plan demonstrates clear progress towards the goal of making sure that Brownsville residents can access the resources they need to live long, healthy lives." 

HPD also published its first annual progress report on the commitments made in the Brownsville Plan, which was created through a year-long planning process that brought together over 20 government agencies, 30 community-based organizations, and nearly 500 residents to identify neighborhood priorities, set goals, and form strategies to achieve them. Examples of progress include: 

  • Activation of Osborn Plaza as the NYCxCo-Lab anchor site
  • Comprehensive security improvements at NYCHA campuses complete this past spring
  • A transformative renovation of Betsy Head Park that will begin construction this fall
  • The launch and expansion of family health programming at the new Neighborhood Health Action Center
  • Improved and expanded activities for children and young adults
  • Support for local small businesses, including storefront improvements

HPD will host a Community Open House and Reception in the fall to present on the Brownsville Plan progress report updates and provide an opportunity for the community to learn more about the proposals and meet the development teams. 

Nearly 900 Affordable Homes to be Built in Brownsville

HPD has designated three development teams identified through a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) process that launched in August 2017 to develop each of the sites. The Brownsville RFP included approximately 173,000 square feet of City-owned land across three sites for the development of mixed-income and mixed-use affordable housing. Each site focused on one specific theme that addresses the community goals and strategies outlined in the Brownsville Plan.

Site A: The Brownsville Arts Center and Apartments (BACA)

Located along Rockaway Avenue and Chester Street, between East New York Avenue a­­­­­­nd Pitkin Avenue, this project will be led by a development team that includes Blue Sea Development Company, Gilbane Development Company and Artspace Projects. The development will contain approximately 230 units of affordable housing that will serve a range of incomes including extremely low-income and formerly homeless households. The building will feature 24,000 square feet of arts and culture space that will be the home of a dance and performing arts school run by Purelements, a music school run by Brooklyn Music School,and a media lab and arts center run by BRIC. The building will also feature a collaborative black box theater that will accommodate a range of uses, including theater, dance, music and film. The theater will provide continuous cultural programming and will be accessible to the community and general public for events. The community identified the need for cultural space that will increase access and opportunities for neighborhood residents and nurture Brownsville’s artistic community. HPD partnered with the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs to review proposals for this site. 

Site B: Glenmore Manor Apartments

Located at the intersection of Christopher Avenue and Glenmore Avenue, his project will be led by a development team that includes the African American Planning Commission, Inc. (AAPC), Brisa Builders, and Lemle & Wolff. The development will include approximately 230 affordable homes serving a range of incomes and populations, including extremely low-income households, formerly homeless households and low-income seniors. It will feature 20,000 square feet of new commercial and community space that will be home to the Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union, as well as a sit-down restaurant, and salon run by a locally-owned beauty products company. The site will also feature space for the Central Brooklyn Economic Development Corporation (CBEDC), and other partners who will expand their programming for young entrepreneurs and provide services for small businesses and nonprofits. 

Site C: Livonia 4

This project will be developed by a team that includes Radson Development, Community Solutions and Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation. Livonia 4 is a multi-site development comprised of a series of parcels along Livonia Avenue between Powell Street and Mother Gaston Boulevard with an additional parcel at the intersection of Livonia Avenue and Amboy Street that will include over 420 units of affordable housing over four sites that will serve a range of incomes and populations, including extremely low-income households, formerly homeless households and low-income seniors. The largest site will include a new supermarket, café and a rooftop greenhouse that will serve as a new local source of fresh produce for distribution to building residents and the community through the supermarket and café. The remaining three sites will feature additional community gardens, social services, a new senior center and a youth and family recreation facility. 

The Brownsville Plan is leading to the creation of over 2,500 new affordable homes, representing more than $1 billion of investment. Over 500 affordable apartments and for sale affordable homes are currently under construction. In addition to new development of vacant City-owned land, including the RFP sites, the plan also coordinates over $150 million in critical neighborhood investments, many of which are under way now or already complete.  

NYCx Co-Lab Challenge Winners 

Proposals were selected from a pool of 24 applicants to the NYCx Co-Lab Challenge: Safe and Thriving Nighttime Corridors, through a technology competition focused on activation of public spaces after dark, in alignment with the findings from the MOCJ-led Neighborhood Activation Study—for support of up to $20,000 in funding—to pilot their solutions. The two selected proposals are: 

Ville-luminate the Block, a project created and led by Brownsville youth with support from the Brownsville Community Justice Center, The Brownsville Partnership, and Peoples Culture—is designing and installing a 3D projection system in Osborn Plaza on the Belmont Avenue Corridor. Brownsville youth are adapting new technologies, coding, and installing an interactive projection system responsive to sensor-monitored pedestrian activity. When an individual walks within a certain proximity to the projection or when a certain number of individuals enter the plaza, it will shift brightness, color, or imagery. The project will serve as an adaptable and accessible platform responsive to the corridor's needs—showcasing community created art and projects. The installation will debut on August 25, 2018. 

Anyways Here’s the Thing, will augment the existing street lamp posts along the Belmont Avenue Corridor with programmable, networked, decorative LED light strips that respond to passing pedestrians with fluctuating radiance. As pedestrians pass under the lamps the lights will shine brighter and trigger other nearby lights, creating wave-like effects.   The animations, which will also be triggered by external data such as bus arrival times at the nearest bus stop, will create an active, responsive atmosphere that subtly indicates the presence of activity and reinforces the use of Belmont Avenue after dark. In collaboration, youth from the Brownsville Community Justice Center’s Tech Lab will design their own lighting choreographies and learn coding to program the lighting system. The installation will debut in October 2018. 


“For far too long Brownsville, home of some of Brooklyn’s most brilliant minds, has been left out of our city’s technological innovations. I am thrilled to hear that development has begun for our proposed Brownsville Cultural Arts Center and Apartments. The new cultural center will be Brownsville’s hub for tech and arts and will also serve as a collaborative space for local organizations to convene. The mixed-use center will play a role in addressing the affordable housing crisis by allotting 230 units to extremely low-income and formerly homeless residents. I am proud of the role my office has played in bringing this plan to fruition and look forward to being intimately involved in the development of the Brownsville Cultural Arts Center and Apartments,” said Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09).

"I am happy to celebrate the anniversary of an investment in the community like the Brownsville Plan. Brownsville residents deserve access to amenities we see in other neighborhoods across Brooklyn. Affordable housing is a priority, and a right. Only in working together with the community do we achieve long lasting positive change," said New York State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud (19th District).

“The process of engaging and empowering neighborhood residents, truly listening to their perspectives, and acting upon that community input is critical to both developing and implementing change. I welcome the Brownsville Plan becoming a reality, with investments linked to concrete projects to serve community needs including increased access to affordable housing, and expanded opportunities to participate in arts and culture. I look forward to the City-community partnerships continuing over the course of the investments ‘The Brownsville Plan’ envisages and beyond,” said New York State Senator Jesse Hamilton (20th District). 

"As a lifelong resident of Brownsville, I have dreamed of my beloved neighborhood once again becoming a safe and desirable community for its families and a destination attraction for all. About a decade ago, residents began to draft a plan leading to the 100 Days Brownsville initiative in 2014. Today, I am proud to see those plans finalize with the selection of developers and community based partners that will create not only newly constructed affordable housing, but a cultural arts attraction and urban tech hub that will foster future partnerships. With these selections, today is a proud day for Brownsville and I look forward to the process ahead leading to meaningful ribbon cuttings," said New York City Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel (District 41).

"The Brownsville community worked hard to come up with a comprehensive plan that serves the needs of the community. I am excited to see the promises of the plan being delivered, such as today's announcement of 880 units of 100% affordable housing and job and small business opportunities. The Glenmore Manor site in my district will bring not only sorely-needed affordable housing, but also, good paying jobs led by an MWBE with retail and a community space,” said New York City Council Member Rafael Espinal (District 37).

“Access to quality, affordable housing is one of my administration’s top priorities, particularly in an economically disadvantaged area of Brooklyn such as Brownsville, which has endured decades of neglect,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “I commend all the City agencies that have been collaborating to deliver these much-needed affordable homes and technology upgrades to this part of the borough. We can solve our most pressing urban challenges such as street lighting, security upgrades, enhancement of green and recreational spaces, support for local entrepreneurship, and expansion of health and social programming through innovative technologies and solutions that cater to a new age of visionary thinking such as the NYCx Co-Lab Challenge.”

“It was extremely important that the voice of the community be heard and prioritized in the creation and implementation of the Brownsville Plan; and I'm excited that the community will see their advocacy memorialized on these sites that were vacant for too long, but now will serve the community with housing and quality of life services,” said Brooklyn Community Board 16 Chair Genese Morgan.

“The team of Blue Sea Development Company and Gilbane Development Company, along with our cultural partners Artspace, BRIC, Purelements, and the Brooklyn Music School, are thrilled for this opportunity to bring affordable housing and an exciting cultural hub to a new, healthy, and sustainable building in Brownsville.  Taking the community’s visioning to heart, we feel this new development will become a landmark arts destination for Brooklyn and the entire City,” said Blue Sea Development Company Co-Founder and Partner Les Bluestone.

“The Brownsville RFP is an example of true community inclusion in its plan for innovative revitalization and twenty- first century growth, as its design was a result of a yearlong collection of neighborhood input; our development team is truly humbled and excited that our vision of entrepreneurial development through the Brownsville HUB and high-quality housing for all members of our community embodied the same vision communicated by the residents of Brownsville. We look forward to bringing this vision to reality with the support of the Brownsville community, “said Brisa Builders CEO Ericka Keller Wala.

"Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation, Community Solutions, and Radson Development are thrilled to be selected to provide more than 400 units of safe and quality affordable housing in the Brownsville community. Working with Magnusson Architecture and Planning, we are excited to build homes where multiple generations of New Yorkers can live healthy and happy lives, without worrying about rent burden. Livonia 4 will provide quality social services, recreational facilities, fresh food and produce, green space, and other resources which can be enjoyed by those living on the Livonia Avenue corridor and throughout Brownsville," said the Livonia 4 Development Team.

“Together with our partners and the community, the Brownsville Partnership is addressing the physical conditions of the neighborhood to improve health outcomes for residents. Simply put, where you live affects your health. Access to fresh food and opportunities for physical activity matter,” says Rosanne Haggerty, President of Community Solutions. “We are thrilled to develop the Livonia 4 site, along with Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation and Radson Development, to advance the vision of a healthy, vibrant community set out in the Brownsville Plan.” 

"The Brownsville Community Justice Center believes in community driven solutions to neighborhood issues and is excited that NYCx Co-Labs is also demonstrating commitment to community voice and ownership,” said Julie Taylor, Deputy Director of the Brownsville Community Justice Center.  “The Ville-Luminate the Block project utilizes cutting edge technology and provides opportunities for neighborhood youth, while centering the communities’ voice in the improvement of lighting on the Belmont Corridor." 

“Through this placemaking solution, we’re activating Belmont Avenue at night and showing the creativity and tech skills of Brownsville youth,” said Layman Lee, Neighborhood Development and Placemaking Manager at the Brownsville Partnership. “At the Partnership, we believe in drawing on the strengths of the community to create innovations that serve Brownsville residents. Improving public spaces with the talents of neighborhood residents is a crucial part of this work.”

“What is exciting about this project is the use of technology to reorient our notion of what public space can be,” said Sarah Bassett, Executive Director of Peoples Culture.  “Our teams’ focus with Ville-Luminate the Block is to co-create a dynamic space in the built environment that promotes community and youth led discourse.”  

“Anyways is super excited to be selected for the NYCx Co-Lab Challenge. We hope that this opportunity allows us to be able to implement some simple but elegant IoT sensing solutions that really connect with the community and help to create a subtle responsive environment” said Henry Lam, Principal at Anyways Here’s The Thing. 


The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Its mission is to promote quality housing and diverse, thriving neighborhoods for New Yorkers through loan and development programs for new affordable housing, preservation of the affordability of the existing housing stock, enforcement of housing quality standards, and educational programs for tenants and building owners. HPD is tasked with fulfilling Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York Plan which was recently expanded and accelerated through Housing New York 2.0 to complete the initial goal of 200,000 homes two years ahead of schedule—by 2022, and achieve an additional 100,000 homes over the following four years, for a total of 300,000 homes by 2026. For full details visit and for regular updates on HPD news and services, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @NYCHousing. 

The New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) is the nation’s largest municipal Housing Finance Agency and is charged with helping to finance the creation or preservation of affordable housing under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York plan. Since 2003, HDC has financed more than 150,000 housing units using over $21.2 billion in bonds and other debt obligations, and provided in excess of $1.9 billion in subsidy from corporate reserves. HDC ranks among the nation’s top issuers of mortgage revenue bonds for affordable multi-family housing on Thomson Reuter’s annual list of multi-family bond issuers. In each of the last five consecutive years, HDC’s annual bond issuance has surpassed $1 billion. For additional information, visit:

The Brownsville Community Justice Center (BCJC) works to reduce crime and incarceration and increase public safety. We develop innovative, place-based strategies for community resilience building, healing, and economic vitality. The Justice Center aims to support community healing and mobility out of poverty to lead to long-term sustainable community-driven change.

The Brownsville Partnership engages residents and partner organizations from many sectors in measurably improving the health, safety, and economic prosperity of the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn. The Partnership builds on Brownsville's considerable strengths to find solutions to its most pressing challenges. It is coordinated by Community Solutions, a nonprofit that works nationally to help communities end homelessness and change the conditions that make people vulnerable to future homelessness.

Peoples Culture is an arts collective working to reimagine shared narratives through collaborative art-making practices. Multimedia is employed as a way to question static narratives formed by structural realities using new media design, spatial planning, classic production, and moving image. 

Anyways Here's The Thing is a Brooklyn, NY based creative technology studio with a focus on user experience and interaction design. From gestural to body movements to traditional tangible mediums, Anyways' work has utilized multiple forms of control to provide sensory experiences that span from simple LEDs to video walls to AR/VR.