NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After years of planning and debate, the Bedford-Union Armory has been transformed into a recreational facility and housing.

The complex was named after civil rights activist and former Congressman Major Owens in the spirit of his efforts to bring much-needed resources to the Brooklyn community, CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported Wednesday.

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Nearly a whole city block of retrofitted space, a recreation area honoring slain former Gov. Andrew Cuomo aide Carey Gabay, complete with basketball courts and a swimming pool, is a long way from the origins of the Bedford-Union Armory.

“It was built for the New York State Calvary Troop C, so what used to happen here is the commanders would stand where we are now and they would observe the drills,” said Donald Capoccia, managing principal of BFC Partners.

Now the space embodies the hopes of former Rep. Owens, who the entire facility is now named after.

He envisioned it becoming a hub of opportunities for the underserved Crown Heights community.

“We tell our young people to say no to gangs, drugs, violence, but we don’t give them what to say yes to. This is what they have to say yes to,” City Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo said.

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Nonprofits now have a permanent home, like New Heights, which provides basketball and college prep classes to high school students, and the Brooklyn Community Pride Center, which will offer mental and behavioral health services, along with co-working spaces, for the LGBTQ community.

“For us to have safe brave spaces for us to be ourselves and not have to code switch when folks come into the room is very, very important,” said Floyd Rumohr, CEO of the Brooklyn Community Pride Center.

The project includes 415 new apartments. Residents initially raised concerns about gentrification, causing a change in the original plans that ended with 60% of units are designated as affordable housing.

“Ten percent of units will be transitional housing for those that will be coming out of a shelter. So, we made every effort to make sure this is truly affordable housing,” Cumbo said.

Nearly a decade in the making, what’s old is new again and the hope is to create a spark for the next generation.

The cost of memberships are provided on a sliding scale based on income, and ranges from $8 for youth to a standard rate of $30 per month.

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For more information on the Bedford-Union Armory, the Brooklyn Community Pride Center and New Heights, please click here, here and here.

Aundrea Cline-Thomas