As it is occurring in many Brooklyn communities, the Flatbush community’s main street which is Flatbush Avenue will evolve from low rise residential-over-commercial zoning–where the attached buildings are typically four stories–to much taller and bulkier structures. The case in point is the soon to be constructed Caton Flats Redevelopment Project (Caton Flats). Caton Flats will be constructed where the closed Flatbush-Caton Market and the Flatbush-Caton Municipal Parking Field presently stand on the northwest corner of Flatbush and Caton Avenues. Both the market and parking lot will be cleared to prepare for construction.
Caton Flats will be 14 stories where the ground floor will contain the Flatbush-Caton Market, a business incubator, a commercial kitchen, a digital technology lab, and a textile fabrication unit. Digital technology laboratories or innovation spaces that contain white boards, video projectors, LCD high definition televisions, laser printers, and work stations for public or private access. It is wished in certain quarters that local high school students and local businesses will be trained to use this technology.
The remaining 13 stories are designated for 256 housing units. The square footage of each apartment is not detailed. This 14-story project amounts to 280,000 square feet. Further, Caton-Flats will have underground parking. NYC Economic Development Corp. the lead agency for this project states “All 256 units will be affordable”. 22% of the units are designated for low income households, 30% are designated for moderate income households, and 48% are designated for middle income households. It is not stated whether the AMI or New York City median income is the basis for defining low income, moderate income and middle income.
The Caribbean-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACCI) has nurtured the Flatbush-Caton Market since its inception. It was built in 2001 to provide a formal business environment for the many street vendors who had been selling on Flatbush Avenue. It houses also the Caribbean Trade Center. To maintain the vendors’ business activity during construction, Flatbush-Caton Market was re-located temporarily to 2184 Clarendon Road on January 26, 2017. This is five blocks south of the original location. This one-story, aqua-colored building features a yellow canopy and offers adequate space for the vendors’ stalls, the business office, bathrooms, and the small sit-down restaurant.
On March 19, 2018, this reporter contacted Dr. Roy A. Hastick, President and CEO of CACCI to ascertain his thoughts on the Market’s progress. Dr. Hastick said,
The redevelopment of the Flatbush Caton Market is a critical step in strengthening Brooklyn’s Caribbean small business community. The creation of CACCI’s Caribbean Trade Center within the new development will provide a permanent home for CACCI’s programs which promote small business opportunity and trade relationships for New York City’s Caribbean community. I am pleased with the development team’s focus on enhancing the market and look forward to working with BRP and Urbane to offer new training and business development programs.
The complete development team includes NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC), Caribbean-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACCI), Magnusson Architecture and Planning, BRP Companies/BRP Development (BRP), and Urbane Development. Given the land is owned by the City of New York, EDC is designated the lead agency. BRP is a real estate development company known for constructing affordable housing. Urbane Development describes itself as “a community development venture that cultivates innovative solutions to build dynamic neighborhoods and positively impact underserved communities.” This means Urbane Development focuses on sustainable social development and urban design. Magnusson Architecture and Planning specializes in “designing housing projects that bring people of different incomes together to collectively raise the standard of living for all.
Given the wide spread displacement of long time residents in communities such as Flatbush, East Flatbush, North and South Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Fort Greene, Bushwick and Williamsburg, it is understandable that there is a level of concern and doubt that Caton-Flats will live up to the expectation of affordability for the current residents of Flatbush and the surrounding communities.
On March 20, 2018, MTOPP’s Alicia Boyd assessed, “This property (Caton Flats) was owned by the City and again, is another give away to developers at the expense of the community. It also shows that the developers are now going into the heart of Flatbush…This building is simply the beginning of a major shift in the landscape of this community.”