Gov. Andrew Cuomo has targeted the perennially underserved area of central Brooklyn for a massive revitalization project, which would pump $1.4 billion into those neighborhoods.
Called “Vital Brooklyn,” the multi-year project would seek to transform the area, addressing affordable housing, parks and recreation, education and youth development, violence prevention programs, resiliency, food and diet and job creation.
The governor announced the plan Thursday at Medger Evers College in Crown Heights, one of the 11 neighborhoods that Vital Brooklyn specifically targets for improvement. The gathering included his commissioners, along with state and local officials.
“If you look at unemployment rates, food stamps, physical inactivity, and number of murders — one of the greatest areas of need in the entire state is Central Brooklyn and it’s not even close,” Cuomo said at the event. The plan, which requires approval from the State Legislature, will tackle the issue from a number of different angles, the governor said. He called it a “comprehensive approach that treats the entire needs of the individual and the entire needs of the family and the entire needs of the community.”
In addition to Crown Heights, the other 10 neighborhoods on the list are: Bedford Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Prospect Heights, East Flatbush, East New York, Lefferts Garden, Prospect Heights, Cypress Hills/Ocean Hills, Canarsie and Bushwick.
Cuomo is looking to cement his legacy as a big project-minded governor. Last week, he presided over the groundbreaking of a $1.5 billion expansion of the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. In January, he announced plans for a $10 billion overhaul of John F. Kenedy International Airport. Other projects like the renovation of LaGuardia Airport, pushing for the completion of the Second Avenue subway extension and ongoing construction of the new Tappan Zee Bridge are all projects the governor counts as his successes.
He is hoping Vital Brooklyn is another. The plan, which the state would fund and which the governor has made part of his 2018 executive budget, allots the most amount — $700 million — for community-based health care. Among its components will be a 36-site ambulatory care network that will partner with existing community-based providers.
Other elements of plan would include $563 million for affordable housing, $140 million for open space and recreation and $23 million to improve and strengthen local electricity and energy sources.
The ambitious plan is similar in scope to Cuomo’s $1 billion Buffalo Billion economic development program, which was intended to revitalize the Upstate city. In November, a federal grand jury indicted eight men on bribery and fraud charges in connection with the project. The governor has not been accused of wrongdoing.