Before the latest in a series of meetings regarding the contentious Bedford Union Armory on Tuesday, dozens of Crown Heights residents, affordable housing advocates, and union workers rallied outside the Jackie Robinson School off Franklin Avenue. Although their rallying cry—"Kill the deal"—was simple, they weren't simply calling for an end to this particular development. Instead of giving the city-owned land to any for-profit developer, they argued, the lot should be converted to a community land trust.

"If they lose the armory, this community's gone," real estate attorney Sylvia Kinard told Gothamist before the meeting started. "It's not just shutting it down. The option is not just finding another developer. We need to make sure that this property, this public resource stays a resource for the community." A community land trust, Kinard said, would ensure "that the affordability promises would actually be kept."

In late 2015, the city announced that the century-old structure would be converted to a mixed-use housing and commercial building. The original development team was comprised of BFC Partners, the Slate Property Group, as well as Knicks star Carmelo Anthony. Slate, which was embroiled in the Rivington House Scandal last year, backed out of the project last August. Anthony, whose foundation was supposed to contribute money for the building's sports facility, dropped out a few weeks later.

The sprawling development is slated to include a combination of market-rate condos, affordable apartments, athletic and recreational centers, and space for several local nonprofits. BFC Partners, the developer, has promised that 50 percent of the units would be set aside as "affordable." Affordability as decided by the city is based on the area median income of the New York City region, which is calculated by averaging rents from across the city and in the wealthier outlying Westchester and Putnam counties. The AMI for New York is currently $90,600 for a family of four—in 2014, the median household income in south Crown Heights was $41,870, according to the NYU Furman Center.

BFC has said that of the units defined as affordable, 18 units, or 5 percent of the total units, will be set aside for people making 40 percent of the AMI; 49 units, or 15 percent, will be set aside for people making 50 percent of the AMI; and 99 units, or 30 percent, for people making 110 percent of the AMI. The remaining 164 units will be market rate.

Throughout the course of the meeting, attendees challenged the developer's narrative of affordability, pointing out that only the 18 units targeted at the lowest income bracket would be affordable for the average family in Crown Heights. Tenants for affordable units will be selected through a Department of Housing Preservation and Development lottery. According to BFC Partners' website, only 30 percent of the units will be permanently affordable.

"What we need here is real affordable housing. Not a percentage, not a couple of units. We also need union jobs!" said Kimberly Grant, a Crown Heights resident and member of construction union Local 79. "This rec center sounds great, it looks good on paper, but this is not going to be something free for the community. This is not for our children. Our children can't play now, and they're not going to be able to play there."

Carl Harris, also a member of Local 79, similarly emphasized the need for developments to be built using union labor. "At the end of the day, you're dealing with all this asbestos." Non-union workers "don't get a retirement plan, nothing. If this project is to go on, make it union. Be right about that. People need to be able to support their families."

Brian Kanarek, a commercial broker with BFK Partners, defended the deal in his testimony. "New York City has a housing crisis," he said. "It's really incredible that someone is willing to take this incredible risk to build this project, which costs millions and millions of dollars. The market-rate component makes the project happen." Before Kanarek could finish speaking, he was interrupted by shouts of "We can't afford it!" from the crowd.

Construction workers—both union and non-union—also spoke in support of the project. "I'm a union worker, too, Local 79," said Martin Allen, a lifelong Crown Heights resident. "But 79 isn't going to build affordable housing. It costs too much!" Martin, who was formerly incarcerated, told the crowd that he was thankful for the development. "I'm not saying to idolize BFC, but BFC was the one who gave me my shot."

Geoffrey Davis, leader of the 43rd Assembly District, argued that the building's recreational complex would provide a space for local kids to play and deter them from violence

We need an educational and recreational center for our young people and our seniors," Davis said. "As I look around and see the faces yelling out about this project, I don't see the faces yelling out about the gun violence. Our children are dying every single day." Davis is the founder of the James E. Davis Stop Violence Foundation, a local nonprofit dedicated to fighting gun violence in the community. The foundation is one of the six nonprofits that would be given affordable space in the Armory development.

The majority of the crowd didn't seem to agree.

"You think this rec center is the answer to gun violence? There's other rec centers here in Brooklyn," said Crown Heights resident Michelle Jenkins, who lives two blocks from the armory. "If you think privatization is going to make a difference in a community that's suffering for decades, that's ridiculous. Your private housing is going to choke the life out of the people who have been living here."