View Full Version : Kingsbridge Armory Conversion

November 15th, 2003, 07:28 PM
November 16, 2003


An Empty Armory Bursts With Possibilities


An unusual problem: What to do with 500,000 square feet.

When completed around 1914, the massive brick castle in Kingsbridge Heights, the Bronx, was said to have the world's biggest drill hall. Over the years, the Kingsbridge Armory has had other moments of glory, including a Beach Boys concert in 1971. But as military use dwindled in the 90's, squabbles arose over what to do with the deteriorating building. The structure has sat unused since 2000.

On Wednesday, officials of the city Economic Development Corporation will go to the Bronx seeking local ideas for the 500,000-square-foot space. It hopes to make an official request for proposals within three months.

The city has its eye on economic uses. "What we've always said is that it has to be self-sustainable," said Janel Patterson, an agency spokeswoman.

But many local leaders are still proposing what they have long felt should occupy the huge space: schools. In the late 90's, the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, working with Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, devised a plan that included three schools, an indoor sports complex, a community center and retail space. The Giuliani administration wanted to build a $110 million sports, entertainment and retail center; while that plan was not realized, the city spent $30 million to replace the roof and make other repairs.

Today, "There are a range of possibilities, although I think the consensus is that it's still not appropriate for schools," said Ms. Patterson. However, Marge Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said that area schools are overcrowded and the school option was still open.

Recently, E.D.C. and elected officials discussed placing schools around the armory so students could use a potential recreational facility within.

Councilwoman Maria Baez said she would welcome certain businesses, like a movie theater, but not big box retailers, who in her view would hurt local stores. Other politicians suggest locating the Police Academy there.

Phyllis Reed, a member of the community and clergy group, holds out hope for at least 2,000 new classroom seats at the armory. She said the armory could be self-sustaining even if it did include schools.

"Schools have to be paid for wherever they're located," she said. "It's going to be considerably less than it would be to build the schools someplace else."

But she is also excited about businesses in the armory. "We're talking about a cineplex, and retailers that we sorely need," she said. "Why do we need to go to Manhattan to go to a bookstore, and Riverdale to get a computer disk?"

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

November 15th, 2003, 09:50 PM

May 31st, 2004, 11:58 AM
City Weighs How To Put Vacant Kingsbridge Armory To Use (http://www.ny1.com/ny/Boroughs/SubTopic/index.html?topicintid=3&subtopicintid=12&contentin tid=40265)

June 28th, 2008, 06:50 AM
Bronx Groups Demand a Voice in a Landmark’s Revival

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/06/25/business/25armory-span-600.jpg G. Paul Burnett/The New York Times
The Kingsbridge Armory covers a full block from Jerome Avenue to Reservoir Avenue and West 195th Street to Kingsbridge Road in the Bronx.

By TERRY PRISTIN (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/p/terry_pristin/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: June 25, 2008

Residents of the northwest Bronx have long taken a proprietary interest in the Kingsbridge Armory, a huge city-owned Romanesque-style fortress that looms over the elevated subway tracks on Jerome Avenue.

Hundreds of people mobilized against a redevelopment plan in 2000 because it did not include classrooms to alleviate severe overcrowding in the local schools. The plan eventually died.

Then, local groups helped persuade the city to spend $31 million replacing the roof and making other repairs to the red brick structure, which has not been used for more than a decade.

Now community organizers in the area, one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, are seeking a private contract with the Related Companies, the developer chosen by the city in April to transform the Kingsbridge Armory into a shopping mall with 575,000 square feet of retail space, including a department store, a multiscreen movie theater and restaurants.

The Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance, a coalition of 19 community, church and labor groups, said it would withhold its support for the $310 million project unless Related guaranteed specified wage and hiring standards for workers and tenants. The groups are also seeking athletic and recreational space, room for cultural programs and social services and opportunities for local entrepreneurs.

“We know how much the stores are going to make off this community,” said Ronn Jordan, an alliance leader and a vice president of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, a group formed in 1974. “We want to make sure they are not exploiting us.”

In recent years, a growing number of private pacts, known as community benefits agreements, or C.B.A.’s, have smoothed the way for developments around the country, including Related’s Grand Avenue project in downtown Los Angeles.

But only a few such agreements have been forged in New York. In 2005, the Bloomberg administration publicly applauded a private agreement between housing advocates and Forest City Ratner, the developer of Atlantic Yards (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/a/atlantic_yards_brooklyn/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier) in Brooklyn, but now it no longer supports the concept.

“When you do a C.B.A., the decision may be made in a vacuum, and that’s what we’re looking to avoid,” Seth W. Pinsky, president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, said in an interview last week. “We’re not opposed to benefits for the community, and we’re not opposed to community involvement. But we just think it should be part of the larger process.”

He said the city’s land-use process “gives ample opportunity for the community’s voice to be heard.” Proposals are reviewed by the local community board, whose members are appointed by the borough president and the City Council member representing the district. The board’s powers are only advisory.

The city’s stance is shortsighted, said Julian Gross, a San Francisco lawyer who directs the legal program of the Partnership for Working Families, an advocacy organization. “They should see a private benefits agreement as a way to give a project a huge boost in terms of public perception and community support,” said Mr. Gross, who advised the Kingsbridge alliance.

Mr. Pinsky said that members of the Kingsbridge alliance have been included in discussions about the armory from the outset, and their concerns were reflected in the 2006 document asking for proposals from developers.

The document said, for example, that the city would “look favorably” on proposals that maximized the number of jobs paying $10 an hour or more, and developers were “strongly encouraged” to make space available at reduced rents for community uses.

But Mr. Jordan said the Kingsbridge alliance, known as KARA, needs guarantees. “For KARA to support this project, we need to have an enforceable agreement between KARA and the developer,” said Mr. Jordan, who has been involved with the armory since 1995.

Completed in 1917, the armory occupies a full block from Jerome Avenue to Reservoir Avenue and West 195th Street to Kingsbridge Road. The main drill hall measures 300 feet by 600 feet and is spanned by vaulted steel trusses that rise 110 feet above the floor.

The building, which also contains a grand 35,000-square-foot entrance with a vaulted ceiling known as a head-house, is a federal, state and city landmark.

Though the nearby schools are still so crowded that parking lots are used as playgrounds, the armory is unsuitable for a school, city officials say.

Two new schools could be built next to the armory if two state-owned auxiliary buildings along 195th Street that are now used by the National Guard were torn down. Mr. Pinsky said the city was trying to find new quarters for the Guard, but classrooms are not part of the Related project.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/06/25/business/25armory-inline1-650.jpgG. Paul Burnett/The New York Times
The main drill hall is 300 feet by 600 feet.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/06/25/business/25armory-inline2-650.jpgG. Paul Burnett/The New York Times
The entrance features a vaulted ceiling.

Related has already negotiated one community benefits agreement in the Bronx, for its Gateway Center at Bronx Terminal Market, a big-box shopping center that is under construction. But that agreement — like a handful of others that have been made in New York — has drawn criticism from advocates and scholars for being weaker than those in other states.

At Gateway Center, only three local groups were parties to the agreement and few obligations were actually imposed on Related, Mr. Gross said.

Glenn Goldstein, the president of Related Retail, bristled at the criticism.

“I’m not sure there has been another project that has been as responsive to the needs and desires of the community,” he said. He pledged that Related would be just as responsive to the armory community, whether or not there is a benefits agreement. “We’ll be spending a lot of time with the community board,” he said. “That’s just part of how we develop projects.”

Gregory Faulkner, the chairman of the Community Board 7, whose area includes the armory, said it was now up to his board to assume a leadership role. “There are more voices than KARA,” he said.

Mr. Faulkner said many people in the community want the new mall to include a “top notch” food market, something that is not on the alliance’s agenda.

Jeffrey Eichler, a coordinator for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union/UFCW, said one of the alliance’s objectives was to avoid harming existing businesses, including the Associated Supermarket on Jerome Avenue, opposite the armory, which is unionized.

Disagreement over a single issue should not rule out a benefits agreement, said Patricia E. Salkin, the director of the Government Law Center of the Albany Law School. “Some of the things that could be the subject of a C.B.A. may not wind up being in the C.B.A.,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a C.B.A.”

The Kingsbridge alliance will not be the only group in New York resisting the city’s opposition to benefits agreements. In East Harlem, Community Board 11 was asked to approve a plan for a mixed-use development on East 125th Street without knowing who the developer would be and, therefore, without having a chance to negotiate for benefits, including wage and hiring guarantees, said Robert Rodriguez, the board chairman.

The board recently rejected the plan.

Mr. Pinsky said the developer for that project would soon be selected.

“I think there’s definite value to having a C.B.A.,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “The city is not going to be the best negotiator for community benefits. The community needs to negotiate its own agreement independently.”


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

October 2nd, 2008, 05:57 AM
Shopping for approval:

Public hearing on Kingsbridge Armory mall plan

Wednesday, October 1st 2008, 9:22 PM

Artist’s rendering of the proposed redevelopment for Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx.

The public will get its first big say Thursday night on the city's selected plan to turn the giant Kingsbridge Armory into a shopping mall.

More than a decade after taking control of the 575,000-square-foot National Guard (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/The+Army+National+Guard) armory, the city starts the public approval process for the Related Companies (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/The+Related+Companies+LP)' plan, including the scope of the required impact studies.

"The purpose of the scoping meeting is to solicit public comment on the scope of work for the Environmental Impact Study," said Janel Patterson (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Janel+Patterson), spokeswoman for the city's Economic Development Corp.

The hearing, which will start at 6 p.m. at the Bronx Library Center (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Bronx+Library+Center), 310 E. Kingsbridge Road, will give community members a chance to be heard on the size of the area around the armory to be examined in studies of likely traffic, economic and environmental impacts.

These can be key, because the project is expected to bring big-box stores, a cinema and retail banking to the neighborhood.

The Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance, a coalition of community groups, churches and unions - including the Northwest Bronx (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/The+Bronx) Community and Clergy Coalition (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Clergy+Coalition) and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Retail%2c+Wholesale+and+Department+Store+Union) - worries that nonunion chain stores will drive small local retailers out of the area without bringing in living-wage jobs.

Others in the neighborhood fret that big-box stores will draw increased traffic and pollution to an area already plagued by high asthma rates.

Activists are encouraging locals to attend Thursday night's scoping meeting because it will be the public's only chance to help determine how much of the surrounding area will be studied to determine how the proposed development will affect them.

"Too often the study area is much too circumscribed to give the affected neighborhoods a clear understanding of the impact," said Richard Lipsky (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Richard+Lipsky), an organizer and consultant who works with small businesses and retail unions.

Community opposition and lack of financing have derailed several development proposals over the past 11 years, starting with then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Rudolph+Giuliani)'s 1996 vision of a "Basketball City" sports-retail complex.

A plan for a multischool campus pushed by local residents seeking relief for the neighborhood's overcrowded schools fizzled because the landmarked armory's windowless walls can't be modified, and state regulations require classrooms to have windows.

Last year, the city took the extraordinary step of convening a task force of elected officials and locals to vet developers' plans and to advise the EDC, which made the final decision to select Related, a developer with close ties to the Bloomberg administration.

The firm earlier won the right to build the Gateway Center (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Gateway+Center) shopping mall a few miles south at the old Bronx Terminal Market.

wegbert@nydailynews.com (wegbert@nydailynews.com)


© Copyright 2008 NYDailyNews.com.

October 2nd, 2008, 09:46 AM
If "The main drill hall is 300 feet by 600 feet.", then where the heck is the other 320,000 square feet??

October 2nd, 2008, 01:42 PM
300x600 would make an EXCELLENT indoor soccer arena.

You could have 2 or 3 fields all in there!

THEN you turn the other 320K sq ft into mall/retail/entertainment space.

October 2nd, 2008, 05:30 PM
From The Number 4 Subway - Kingsbridge Road Station, 9/24/08


October 2nd, 2008, 07:09 PM
That's a nice photograph.

October 2nd, 2008, 11:25 PM
In that photo the armory looks very much like the Kremlin -- though I think/hope that 500,000 sq. ft. of retail has somewhat less capacity for harm.

September 7th, 2009, 08:05 AM
September 04, 2009 2:28 PM

Big Bronx Armory project draws a key 'no' vote

Borough president gives Related Cos.' plan a thumbs down; door still open

By Hilary Potkewitz (http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcs.dll/personalia?ID=20)

After months of weighing the issue, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz gave a thumbs down Friday to the Related Cos.' proposed redevelopment of the 600,000-plus-square-foot Kingsbridge Armory.

His decision came to light when he submitted his recommendations to the City Planning Commission as part of the city's drawn-out Uniform Land Use Review Process. The borough president's main objections were the lack of a community benefits agreement outlining a living wage policy, provisions that would allow workers to unionize and guarantees of expanded community space.

Mr. Diaz also objected to the developer's plans to put a massive grocery store in the retail center, a step that he said would severely impact smaller grocers in the neighborhood. Far from condemning the project outright, he simply made it clear that his approval was merely contingent upon a community benefits agreement.

“While I cannot offer my approval to this proposal at this time, I am hopeful that the developer will continue negotiations with my office and the community to craft a strong community benefits agreement,” Mr. Diaz said in a statement.

Development efforts for the sprawling West Bronx landmark have been fraught with conflict for years. It has stood vacant for more than a decade. Related Cos. submitted the winning bid last year, which included nearly 350,000 square feet of retail space, a 57,000-square-foot movie multiplex, and 31,000 square feet of restaurant space. The remaining 160,000 or so square feet were to be used for common space. The company says that it expects the project to bring 1,200 permanent jobs to an area starved for employment.

Some local leaders thought that more was needed.

“We are thrilled that he's listening to the community,” said Ava Farkas, spokesperson for the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance. “He's taking a good stand and telling the Related Companies that you can't just come here and do whatever you want—there are standards you have to meet.”

After the decision the Related Companies issued this statement: "We have been incredibly clear from the outset with each and every elected official and stakeholder that we can only make commitments that will not undermine the viability of the project. We remain ready and willing to continue to work with any and all stakeholders to redevelop the Kingsbridge Armory into a positive addition to the community."

The City Planning Commission will have a hearing on the project next Wednesday, which kicks off a 60-day deliberation period for the agency to come up with its own recommendation.


© 2009 Crain Communications, Inc.

September 7th, 2009, 08:58 AM
The rendering in post #5 shows the cones removed from the twin towers.


September 7th, 2009, 09:59 AM
I have no idea why they would want to do that.

But it's all water under the bridge now if the plan is dropped.

I did come across a nice slide show of Armoury photo's while searching for Relateds plans.

SLIDE SHOW (http://www.bronxnewsnetwork.org/2009/07/kingsbridge-armory-coverage-preview.html)

October 13th, 2009, 06:24 AM
Armory spat drags on: Diaz takes aim at builder, says project will add to congestion

BY Bill Egbert

October 13th 2009

With the clock ticking down, it's become a slugfest of words between the proposed developer of the Kingsbridge Armory and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Members of the city Planning Commission will take their advisory vote on the project next week. It will then go to the City Council and then the mayor's office for final approval before the end of the year.
When Diaz was elected last spring, the armory proposal from The Related Companies had already stirred controversy.

Last month, Diaz recommended that the city reject Related's proposal unless the developer signed a binding community benefits agreement, taking up the cause of local activists demanding a living wage and protections for local businesses.

Opponents took aim at the draft environmental impact study provided by Related, which they claimed underestimated traffic and parking congestion as well as the impact on existing local businesses, and Diaz has pressed those points with the city and the developer.

"This is not the first time the city and its consultants have skirted proper analysis on major development projects it promotes," said Diaz. "Whether this is intentional or indolent, it is nonetheless disturbing."

Diaz said that Related's DEIS avoided a proper market analysis by claiming it could not differentiate between shoppers who live in the area from those coming from outside the neighborhoods around nearby shopping districts like Fordham Road.

Related responded that "it is not possible to know exactly who [residents or nonresidents] is spending money in the area" because customers could be residents or workers. But Diaz suggested that surveys conducted by the Fordham Road Business Improvement District could have provided relevant data.

Diaz also found fault with Related's assumption that the 330 cars expected to overflow from the underground parking garage on Saturday afternoons would be able to find street parking in the already congested neighborhood.

Related's answer - that the lack of parking would likely result in more shoppers opting to take public transport - did not satisfy Diaz either, who expects parking issues "will be a significant burden to the community."

Part of the borough president's frustration is that when he came to office, the controversial proposal was well underway.

One of Diaz's complaints is that the DEIS traffic study didn't include intersections along Van Cortlandt Park South, which could be expected to receive added armory-bound traffic exiting the Major Deegan Expressway.

Related's response was that the area of the traffic study was already expanded after a scoping meeting a year ago when prior Borough President Adolfo Carrion asked the developer to double its size from a quarter-mile to a half-mile. But that expanded area did not include Van Cortlandt Park South.

Diaz responded that excusing such a gap in the traffic analysis by blaming his predecessor for somehow tying Related's hands was "ludicrous."
"Ignoring an elephant in the room simply does not make it go away," Diaz said.

Related was able to sidestep the two most significant concerns from the borough president's office - the lack of agreement on a community benefits pact, and whether the armory neighborhood really needs the 60,000-square-foot supermarket envisioned by the DEIS - simply noting that such things are beyond the scope of a city environmental quality review.

In the past, Related has said it included the supermarket in the impact study only at the specific request of local Community Board 7.

The owners of the Bronx-based Morton Williams supermarket chain, whose flagship store is across the street from the Armory, have loudly objected to the heavily subsidized project undercutting them with a warehouse-style supermarket.

Related did, however, address that fear in its response to Diaz's concerns, stating that while the project may include a supermarket, "it is not anticipated to include a warehouse-style big box supermarket."

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/bronx/2009/10/13/2009-10-13_armory_spat_drags_on_pol_takes_aim_at_builder_s ays_project_will_add_to_congestio.html

October 13th, 2009, 10:28 AM
I still say it is better as an indoor recreation park first, retail outlet second.

Hell, just having things like food (restaurants and such) would be great for a place like that. Go for ice cream after the game w/o having to leave the building!

All this parking is typical. Yes, ANYTHING you do witgh that will adversely effect traffic unless you ban parking around it and start requiring permits to park anywhere near it that was inot in the garage.


October 13th, 2009, 10:39 AM
thanks to brianac for the link to the armory slideshow. what a tremendous building...seems like it would be such a waste to put a "big box" store in there.

October 20th, 2009, 05:35 AM
Monday, October 19, 2009

City Planning Commission Votes in Favor of Armory Proposal but Diaz has Support of 2 Other BP's

We just got word that, while the City Planning Commission gave the thumbs up to the Related Companies' proposal to redevelop the Kingsbridge Armory, the representatives of two other borough presidents -- Marty Markowitz of Brooklyn and Scott Stringer of Manhattan -- and Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum's rep joined Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz's appointee, Kenneth Knuckles, in opposing the plan. The final decision will be made within 50 days in the City Council. We'll have more soon, but here's what Diaz said in a statement.

“While I am disappointed with the outcome of today’s vote, I am heartened that several of my colleagues from other boroughs stood with the people of my borough and agreed that the current proposal to redevelop the Kingsbridge Armory is a bad deal for The Bronx. Related has not adequately addressed the concerns that my office, in conjunction with the elected officials, community board and community groups from the area, have laid out in our community benefits agreement, nor does the developer seem at all interested in doing so.

“We are not asking for anything radical or extreme. We are simply asking that, in a borough that has the highest poverty rate in the nation and has consistently seen the highest unemployment numbers in New York State, Related and their future tenants provide living wage jobs with benefits that allow Bronxites a chance to provide for their families and to build a better life. I am hopeful that the developer will sit down with my office to negotiate this issue and others prior to the City Council’s upcoming vote on the project, and I will continue to stand up and do what is right for the people of The Bronx,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.


October 20th, 2009, 06:44 AM
Panel Approves Conversion of Kingsbridge Armory Into Mall

By Sam Dolnick

Richard L. Trumka, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., spoke last month to community leaders about the development fight over the Kingsbridge Armory.

The City Planning Commission (http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/organizations/c/city_planning_commission/index.html) approved a controversial plan Monday to turn the Kingsbridge Armory, a soaring red-brick castle in the northwestern Bronx, into a mall that will include a large department store, dozens of shops and a movie theater.

The developer, the Related Companies (http://www.related.com/), says the $310 million project will bring jobs and much-needed businesses to the working-class neighborhood while giving new life to a neglected landmark that has sat vacant for more than a decade.

But the project has many detractors, among them the Bronx borough president, Rubén Díaz Jr. (http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/d/ruben_diaz_jr/index.html), and a coalition of labor, religious and local groups.

They argue that the deal should not be approved unless Related promises employees a “living” wage, allows workers to form a union, and provides community space on the site, among other demands.

Dozens of protesters holding placards — “Say no way to poverty pay” — packed the room for Monday’s vote. The vote was 8 to 4, with one member of the commission, Maria M. Del Toro (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/about/deltorobio.shtml), having recused herself from the vote.

Mr. Díaz’s representative on the Planning Commission voted against the project, as did the representatives of the Manhattan and Brooklyn borough presidents and the city’s public advocate. The City Council still has to vote on the project, within the next 50 days.

The armory project “represents the most significant private investment in the northwest Bronx in generations,” the city’s planning commissioner, Amanda M. Burden (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/about/amandaburden.shtml), said before she voted in favor of the development.

Related has been offered extensive subsidies and tax incentives for the project, which include more than $40 million in federal and state historic tax credits. The city also spent $30 million to replace the roof. Under the terms of the proposed deal, Related will pay $5 million for the property. The Kingsbridge Armory project is the latest in a string of recent, large developments that have prompted controversy in the Bronx, the poorest urban county in the nation, where 28 percent of residents live in poverty, according to census data.

The Gateway Mall, also built by Related, opened this past spring and has drawn criticism for offering low-wage jobs, hurting local businesses, and charging parking fees. The new Yankee Stadium, just blocks from the Gateway Mall, has left many Bronx residents upset over the loss of parkland.
Mr. Díaz and a coalition of neighborhood advocates have vowed that this time, the community would shape the project as much as the developer. But Monday’s vote was a blow to their cause.

The opposition’s top priority has been fighting for a pledge that the jobs created by the armory project pay a “living” wage and offer benefits.

Jesse Masyr, an attorney for Related, said requiring a living wage would force prospective tenants to rent space elsewhere. “We’re opposed to imposing an economic penalty to tenants that come to our site that doesn’t exist literally across the street or anywhere else in New York City,” he said.

Unless Related changes its stance, Mr. Díaz said on Monday, “these jobs are not going to allow Bronx families to get themselves out of poverty.”

He said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was more interested in helping Related than Bronx residents, saying, “He wants his millionaire friends to continue to reap benefits from sweetheart deals.”

In a statement, Mr. Bloomberg praised the Planning Commission vote, calling the project “an enormous opportunity to revitalize it as a hub of activity and jobs in the West Bronx.”

Mr. Díaz’s opposition stands in stark contrast with that of his predecessor, Adolfo Carrión Jr. (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/adolfo_jr_carrion/index.html), who welcomed the Gateway Mall. Mr. Carrión resigned as Bronx borough president in February to join the Obama administration as director of the new White House Office on Urban Affairs.

Some economists dispute Related’s argument that guaranteeing a living wage would drive away tenants. Dan Morris, communications director at the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy (http://www.drummajorinstitute.org/), a liberal but nonpartisan research center in New York, points to projects in cities like Minneapolis where he says development projects have successfully created living wage jobs without hurting business.

“It’s a false dichotomy here between supporting development on the one hand and pushing a pro-worker agenda on the other — you can do both,” Mr. Morris said.

Calls to a Related spokeswoman were not immediately returned.

Prominent labor leaders have rallied around the armory fight. Presidents of five of the city’s largest labor unions recently sent letters to City Council members urging them to demand a living wage pledge, while Richard L. Trumka (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/t/richard_trumka/index.html), president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., visited the armory last month to offer his support.

The Kingsbridge Armory and its impressive turrets loom over its low-rise neighbors, a striking element of the local skyline. The building’s first resident was the National Guard’s Eighth Coastal Artillery Regiment, which moved in when the armory was completed in 1917. In the decades since, the building has played host to a women’s homeless shelter, music concerts and dog shows. It was declared a city landmark in 1974.

The main building has sat vacant since about 2000.

In the debate over its latest incarnation, the question of whether to include a grocery store in the plans has been one of the strongest points of contention.

Some local leaders say the neighborhood needs a new grocery store that offers healthy, organic foods. But other advocates say a new supermarket would threaten two other nearby stores operated by a regional chain with deep roots in the Bronx. They have called for Related to pledge to keep a supermarket out of the armory to protect local businesses.

After the vote, the Planning Commission tried to move on to other business, but the protesters interrupted the proceedings as they marched out of the hearing room, chanting, “Two, four, six, eight, Related must negotiate.”


December 14th, 2009, 10:37 PM
I wish the city would start developing more commercial projects on its own rather than relying so much on bottom-line developers. At least they're doing a good job with parks, affordable housing, and buildings for various agencies. But think of all the other uses developers don't build because it doesn't make the most amount of money. If left up to developers the city would build nothing but condos, class A office space, and bank branches.

Imagine if the city itself developed affordable retail and office space, galleries, clubs, amusements parks, bookstores, cafeterias, theaters etc..


Modified: December 14, 2009 3:58 PM
City Council kills plan for 2,200 Bronx jobs

Local politicos' and labor activists' insistence on jobs that pay $10 an hour or more torpedoes plans to turn long-empty Kingsbridge Armory into a mall.

It would have been the largest development project in the Bronx since the recession began, a $310 million effort to turn the sprawling, long-derelict Kingsbridge Armory into a 500,000-square-foot shopping mall. It would have created 1,000 construction jobs and permanent posts for about 1,200 retail workers. It enjoyed the backing of the local community board, the mayor, the construction and building trade unions, and others.

But on Monday it died on the floor of the City Council. The council's zoning subcommittee, Land Use Committee and full council voted overwhelmingly against the zoning change the project needed.

In a statement, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the vote “means the loss of a rare opportunity to bring thousands of jobs and more than $300 million in private investment to The Bronx. Given that the national recession continues to weigh on the entire city and keep unemployment high—particularly in the Bronx—the outcome and timing couldn't be worse.”

It was the first rezoning voted down since Mr. Bloomberg took office in 2002, although some proposals have been withdrawn when it became clear they lacked council support. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who helped rescue other Bloomberg rezonings, did not twist her members' arms this time.

The city-subsidized project's clause of death, as it were, was a “living wage” provision that Bronx council members and some local groups insisted that the Related Cos., the project's developer, require tenants to pay employees. The minimum wage was to be $10 per hour with benefits, or $11.50 per hour without.

Related said in a statement Monday, “While we have always offered various additional community benefits, the conversation never moved beyond a singular agenda—seeking to mandate wages on all future retail tenants, an issue that was always outside of the control of Related as a landlord.” It added that most of the jobs, including all the construction jobs, would have paid living wage.

The developer steadfastly insisted that major retailers would balk at such terms, and thus lenders would refuse to finance the project. On the other side, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., six of the borough's eight council members, a coalition of community groups called the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance (KARA), and others said: no living wage, no deal.

“There's a reason why there's a floor on wages,” said a spokesman for KARA. “Retail wages are certainly too low to live above the poverty rate in the Bronx.”

The coalition includes the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, the Sustainable South Bronx and others. “They'd rather have no jobs than poverty-wage jobs,” said the spokesman for KARA, which was the first to make the living-wage issue front and center back in June, when members began attending community board meetings.

The Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) and its outspoken president, Stuart Appelbaum, publicly embraced the call.

The group's living-wage message caught fire with many leading political figures in the borough, including Mr. Diaz, who was elected in April and took a stand on the issue early in his term.

“The idea that the city would say that it would never demand of a developer—who is benefiting from enormous public subsidies—that its development pay wages that would enable people to live in the neighborhood around the project, is really troubling,” said Joan Byron, an associate director at the Pratt Center for Community Development, which is working with KARA.

The project has been in the works for more than a decade. What's been lost in all the noise is that the community board representing the neighborhood most affected by the project actually supported it.

“We believe this project is critically important to the future of our neighborhoods,” wrote Gregory Faulkner, chairman of Community Board 7 in a March letter to City Comptroller Bill Thompson after it was reported that Mr. Thompson had made statements in support of a living-wage clause.

Mr. Faulkner wrote that his board recognizes that efforts must be made to keep the project “financially feasible,” meaning no binding living-wage requirement.
In June, the 36-member board backed up its chairman by overwhelmingly voting in favor of the plan.

In November the saga took an unexpected turn when the powerful Building and Construction Trades Council broke with Mr. Appelbaum's retail union and began campaigning in favor of the project. It was quickly joined by the Building Trades Employers' Association.

“If the City Council votes to disapprove of this project because of the living-wage provision, that would be a huge hit to the 30% of union apprentices who live in the Bronx,” said Louis Coletti, the president of the New York Alliance of Building Contractors, before today's City Council vote.

The building trades council went further, with President Gary LaBarbera saying, “Those who don't support this project don't support putting our members to work.”

Internally, even among the ranks of those who are most adamant about a living-wage clause, there is talk that the effort may have spun out of control. A source involved in the negotiations said last week that the retail workers union had approached Related, saying it might be willing to settle for an agreement that would allow it to organize employees at the Armory, and might be willing to quietly drop the living-wage demand.

Building service workers union 32BJ also withdrew from the living-wage coalition after reaching some sort of understanding with Related, an insider said.

Talks between living-wage backers and the Bloomberg administration reached an impasse Friday and never regained momentum. The council's vote means the entire land-use review process would have to be started again to revive the project. That would take at least a year.

December 15th, 2009, 05:44 AM
Council Hands a Rare Defeat to Related Over Armory Project [Updated]

December 14, 2009

The City Council is preparing to hand a defeat Monday to the Related Companies, the normally-successful development powerhouse that sought to turn the giant Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx into a mall.

The forthcoming rebuke--the Land Use committee Monday morning voted 17-1 against the project (http://www.observer.com/2009/politics/kingsbridge-plans-blocked-committee)--is an extremely rare action for a Council that, in the end, almost always supports proposed development projects throughout the city.

But here, the debate evolved into a binary choice about living wage and whether to mandate that all retailers in the $323 million mall pay their employees at least $10 an hour. Related said this would be impossible--no bank would lend it the money to build, and no major retailer would agree to come in when wages could be different at a nearby store.

But the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union applied heavy pressure on the issue, saying no jobs were better than "poverty jobs" (not noting that a major portion of the mall's jobs were to have been above $10 an hour), and proceeded to demand, successfully, that the Bronx delegation on the Council make an example of Related, and vote the project down. The Bloomberg administration tried to save the project, putting more subsidy into the deal and offering an optional living wage program for retailers.

In a sense, the vote injects a new sense of hazard into New York's land-use fights, in which the Council often threatens to vote against a given project but never actually pulls the trigger (concessions are always thrown its way to avoid a defeat).

The only other defeat in recent memory of a major development project at the Council was also a Related project: In 2005, the Council voted down a planned big-box development on Brush Avenue where Related wanted to put a BJ's.

Lobbyist Richard Lipsky, who opposed Related on both projects, called (http://www.observer.com/2009/politics/kingsbridge-plans-blocked-committee) Monday morning's move a "precedent-setting" one in a chat with The Observer's Azi Paybarah.


The final vote in the full Council was 45-1, with the lone no vote coming from Councilwoman Helen Sears. Numerous speakers called the moment "historic," though Ms. Sears and one other member, Councilman Peter Vallone, questioned the logic in defeating a job-creating development in a recession.


December 15th, 2009, 06:27 AM
Bloomberg Backlash

Emboldened New York City Council kills Kingsbridge Armory plan, sending strong message to mayor


The City Council pushed back against one of the city’s most influential developers and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today when members overwhelmingly voted against the Related Companies’ proposal to turn the abandoned Kingsbridge Armory in the western Bronx into a massive mall. The council also extracted considerable concessions from the same developer on its plans for (http://www.archpaper.com/e-board_rev.asp?News_ID=3944) a transformed Hudson Yards.

In so doing, the council sent two powerful messages to the Bloomberg administration, which has lost its air of invincibility following last month’s surprisingly close mayoral election. First, members are no longer willing to rubber-stamp the city’s development plans, which they want a greater role in shaping. And second, city-subsidized projects like Kingsbridge—one of several large malls (http://www.archpaper.com/e-board_rev.asp?News_ID=3641) proposed in recent years—will now be expected to provide more robust benefits for those employed by them.

Over the last eight years, virtually no land-use project, and none on the scale of the Kingsbridge Armory redevelopment, have been defeated. Some, like the rezonings of 125th Street, Willets Point (http://archpaper.com/e-board_rev.asp?News_ID=2952), and Coney Island (http://archpaper.com/e-board_rev.asp?News_ID=3727), went down to the wire, but all ultimately succeeded through eleventh-hour negotiations. Despite postponing today’s decision twice to buy more time, the project was shot down by a vote of 45 to 1.

“I think EDC tried their hardest,” said councilmember Joel Rivera, who represents the area surrounding the armory, referring to the city’s Economic Development Corporation. “It’s unfortunate we were unable to come to an agreement.”

At the heart of the negotiations was a so-called living wage, a standard well above the legally required minimum that has become popular with labor unions. In the case of Kingsbridge, the community was seeking $10.00 per hour with benefits or $11.50 without. The council argued that because the project was receiving millions of dollars in city subsidies, it should provide a commensurate public benefit.

Ruben Diaz, Jr., the Bronx borough president who led the charge against the project with Rivera, called today’s vote the dawning of a new era, particularly for his borough, which has the highest poverty rate in the city. “That notion that any job is better than no job no longer holds,” Diaz said during a celebratory press conference on the steps of City Hall.

The project was overturned on technical grounds, because the council is only allowed to consider land-use issues when making land-use votes.

Among the issues cited by the council were insufficient parking, traffic congestion, and the asthma threats associated with them. “We cannot approve a project that will bring more people to an area that is already choked with traffic and pollution,” council speaker Christine Quinn said at a press conference before the vote. She did add that there were a number of important non-land-use matters weighing on the decision, though ultimately the technical deficiencies of the city’s plan were enough to derail it.

Quinn also heralded her success at Hudson Yards, where the developer has now committed to make 20 percent of the 5,000 housing units affordable, many of them permanently. “Creating affordable housing in any part of the city is not easy, but in my district—where land prices have grown so high in Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen—it’s even harder,” Quinn said. In the rezoning, which passed by a vote of 47–0, the Bloomberg administration agreed to new green space and tree planting in Hell’s Kitchen; moving ahead on a Hell’s Kitchen South historic district; additional community oversight of the 10 acres of open space at Hudson Yards; and a special construction task force that will address quality-of-life issues that may arise as Related builds out its 12 million-square-foot development.

It remains to be seen how the administration will respond to today’s votes. In a statement, the mayor suggested that he remains unwilling to change his approach, calling a living wage “a line we were never going to cross.”

“It’s a disappointing and irrational outcome,” Bloomberg continued, “but New Yorkers can rest assured our administration will not waver in our efforts to encourage private sector investment and job creation in the Bronx and throughout New York City.”

While Quinn cautioned against reading today’s votes as a turnabout in the council’s relationship with the mayor, councilmember Tony Avella—a frequent administration critic and Democratic mayoral candidate earlier this year—saw the council’s action as just that. “I think this is a message that the council is going to assert its role as an equal partner in shaping this city,” Avella said. “For too long, the council and the speaker have just gone along with the mayor.”

Brooklyn representative Diana Reyna agreed, having had her own recent brush with the administration over the Broadway Triangle. Last week, Reyna came within one vote (http://www.archpaper.com/e-board_rev.asp?News_ID=4111) of overturning the city’s plan to rezone the area because there was insufficient affordable housing and community outreach. “Moving forward, we have to set an agenda in this body that will benefit the community, not the special interests,” Reyna said.

Matt Chaban


December 16th, 2009, 06:16 AM
Voting 45-1, Council Rejects $310 Million Plan for Mall at Bronx Armory


Bronx advocates said that the City Council vote on Monday to reject a $310 million project to build a mall inside the Kingsbridge Armory provided an opportunity to come up with a more community-oriented plan for the massive red-brick castle.

City Council members who voted down the project 45 to 1, with one abstention, said that the plan, proposed by the Related Companies, would have created hundreds of jobs that would have paid at or around the state’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, pay that they called too low to support local families.

They wanted Related to pledge that every job at the mall would pay at least $10 an hour, arguing that the company was set to receive more than $50 million in tax credits and exemptions. Many cities across the country have similar requirements for projects built using public money.

But Related said that any requirement to pay above minimum wage would make it impossible to attract tenants or secure financing.

The two sides negotiated through Sunday night, but with neither willing to bend, the Council voted to kill project, quashing plans that the developer said would have created 1,000 construction jobs and about 1,200 permanent ones.

The Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance, a coalition of labor, religious and community leaders, said it would seek to work with a developer that would turn the building into a community resource that offers space for recreation, cultural and educational activities.

“We want development that will improve the community but not at the expense of pushing poor people out,” said Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter, a longtime Bronx advocate.

The vote was a surprising defeat for the Bloomberg administration, which championed the project as a valuable investment that would spur much-needed economic development in the city’s poorest borough.

But to many in the Bronx, the Kingsbridge Armory project and the prospect of so many low-wage jobs crystallized what opponents regarded as Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s disregard for working-class families. The fight for a “living wage” became a populist battle against “profits for barons,” in the words of Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr., and an opportunity to hold developers that use public funds accountable.

“I am against any irresponsible project that would bring negative impacts to the community,” said Councilwoman Annabel Palma, the leader of the Bronx delegation. She cited traffic problems and parking concerns, along with the low wages, as the project’s biggest problems.

Mr. Bloomberg called the vote “disappointing and irrational.” In a statement, he said, “As a result of today’s vote, we can say one thing for sure: There will be no wages paid at all at the Kingsbridge Armory for the foreseeable future.”

Related, which has built projects across the city, including several in the Bronx, blamed the collapse of the plan on “outside groups imposing artificial wage demands that do not exist anywhere else in New York City or New York State.”

The armory, a federal, state and city landmark on Kingsbridge Road at Jerome Avenue, was built by the city between 1912 and 1917 and was used to store arms and ammunition and to train troops. Since then, it has been used as a shelter for homeless women and a concert space, among many other incarnations, but it has sat vacant for more than a decade.

On Monday, council members played down the importance of the wage issue and maintained that land-use problems were the main reason for the outcome of the vote, part of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. But for months, the wage dispute has drowned out other concerns.

Advocates praised the Council’s vote, and members of the alliance gathered Monday at City Hall with signs saying, “Bloomberg to Bronx: Drop dead.”

Mr. Bloomberg’s office said he would veto the Council’s decision. But the Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, said she had the two-thirds majority vote needed to override him.

The armory vote, originally scheduled for last week, was postponed to allow for further negotiation. One potential compromise was a city fund to pay retail employees at the armory extra wages on top of what employers paid, or to provide them with MetroCards and other benefits. The fund would have been financed partly with the $5 million that Related offered to pay for the building. That idea collapsed when the city lawyers said aspects of it would run afoul of the State Constitution, Councilman Joel Rivera said.

The Council’s demand for higher paying wages was not unprecedented.

Nearly 200 cities already require developers using public money to pay more than the minimum wage, according to Peter Dreier, a politics and urban policy professor at Occidental College in Los Angeles who has studied wage issues.

At the Kingsbridge Barber Shop, across the street from the hulking armory, barbers and customers alike said the community did not need a mall, or more low-wage work.

“People need jobs, but they don’t need chump change,” Jose Nuñez said as he cut a customer’s hair on a recent afternoon. “This building belongs to the people in this area.”

From the barber’s chair, Courtney Brooks agreed. “We’re not suckers in the Bronx,” he said. “We’re not going to take whatever somebody is offering.”


December 16th, 2009, 09:50 AM
Mike's call to armory

NY POST (http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/mike_call_to_armory_mc3MbNmoMPveq1s6fqzkHJ)
City Hall Bureau Chief
December 16, 2009

Mayor Bloomberg yesterday vowed to veto an overwhelming City Council vote killing a plan to convert the Bronx's Kingsbridge Armory into a shopping mall, saying the loss of the 1,200 jobs it would have created in the current economy was "really unfortunate."

The measure was rejected Monday after months of opposition from labor unions and others who wanted every retailer signing a lease there to be required to pay a "living wage" of $10 an hour, plus benefits, when the minimum wage is $7.25.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., triumphantly crowed after the vote that no jobs were better than low-paying ones.

"We here maintain that notion that any job is better than no job no longer applies," he said.

"What happened . . . at the City Council is historic. . . . It is huge in that for the very first time in a long time, we've seen how the interests of the people have prevailed over corporate America and boy, does that feel good!"

At a speech last night in The Bronx, Gov. Paterson decried double-digit unemployment in the borough, likening it to a "depression" -- but still backed the council vote.

"When the entire delegation feels that way, I would respect that they must know something," he said.

The governor added the project was criticized for spending more money "on commercial opportunities and not addressing the issue of disaffected youth."

Bloomberg, at the Copenhagen climate-change summit, accused council members who smacked down the project 45-1 of acting for parochial reasons, meaning their own political concerns.

He added, "We will veto it. It is the right project for The Bronx."

[B]There are clearly enough votes to override a veto.

Still, Bloomberg was insistent, saying, "This would generate a lot of jobs 1,000 construction jobs, 1,200 permanent jobs.

"To turn down this project at a time when we really need those jobs is really unfortunate."

The death of the armory revamp was an unusual defeat of a development plan for Bloomberg, whose proposals have generally been pushed forward by the council under Speaker Christine Quinn.

Bloomberg insisted the vote "would have turned out differently" if the legislator representing the area wasn't absent. Councilwoman Maria Baez is battling a serious illness and has been absent for weeks.

The mall was supposed to be developed by Related Companies, which worked on other projects around the city and alongside the Bloomberg administration.

The opposition was led in large part by the retail workers union and its head, Stuart Appelbaum.

Additional reporting by Carl Campanile

Copyright 2009 NYP Holdings, Inc.

December 17th, 2009, 05:45 AM
Limited clout of Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Christine Quinn doomed Kingsbridge Armory deal

BY Frank Lombardi and David Saltonstall

December 16th 2009

A perfect storm of political headwinds blew apart plans to make Kingsbridge Armory a massive shopping mall, insiders said.

"Events came together in exquisite fashion," said Richard Lipsky, a lobbyist who worked to kill the mall proposal.

The causes of death were many, observers said.

There was the waning influence of Mayor Bloomberg after his closer-than-expected reelection.

There was an unusually united Bronx Democratic machine, said others, and the inability of Council Speaker Christine Quinn to stand up to that machine as she faces her own reelection bid for speaker next month.

And, as Bloomberg declared yesterday, there was City Councilwoman Maria Baez. The one-time head of the Bronx Council delegation lost her reelection bid and has since been sidelined by illness.

"She wasn't around to spearhead," Bloomberg told reporters. "Otherwise I think the vote would have turned out differently."

In truth, it was probably all the above - a rare confluence of people and agendas that in the end kept a $324 million proposal from getting off the ground in the Bronx.

Baez's absence left a power vacuum that was filled by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and other backers of the deal's union-backed "living wage" push.

Bloomberg toyed with ways to meet the wage demands, but in the end he pulled his offer off the table, insiders said.

"A compromise was there," Bronx Councilman Oliver Koppell insisted. "I'm very annoyed at the mayor's office."

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2009/12/16/2009-12-16_bloomy_and_quinns_limited_clout_doomed_deal.htm l?r=ny_local&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nydnrss%2Fny_local+%28NY+Loca l%29&utm_content=Google+Reader#ixzz0ZwRGTtNU

December 23rd, 2009, 05:42 AM
Council Overrides Veto, Blocking Plan for Armory Mall


The City Council dealt a final blow on Monday to a developer’s plans to build a mall inside the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx, a significant defeat for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on a key project.

The Council voted 48 to 1, with one abstention, to override Mr. Bloomberg’s veto of its decision last week to defeat the plan, signaling the resentment the mayor faces on the eve of his third term.

Related Companies, the developer picked for the project, would have received more than $50 million in tax credits and exemptions for the plan.

The company says the $310 million project would have created 1,000 construction jobs and 1,200 permanent ones in the Bronx, where the unemployment rate is the highest in the city. Mayor Bloomberg had backed the plan as a much-needed investment to spur economic development in the area.

But the City Council and local advocates objected to the mall, mainly because Related refused to require all prospective employers at the site to pay at least $10 an hour. Many of the jobs created would have paid at or around the minimum wage, $7.25 an hour.

A coalition of religious leaders, community advocates and labor groups pushed hard against Related’s plans, framing the mall as a boon for a well-connected development company that would be built at taxpayers’ expense. The group, known as the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance, won the support of Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. and many other local officials.

After the vote last week, leaders of the coalition said they hoped the armory would be developed to offer more space for cultural, educational and recreational activities.

But Mayor Bloomberg warned Monday that the soaring brick castle, which has been vacant for more than a decade, may now sit empty for many more years.

“I just think it’s so disappointing for so many people who want jobs,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “It’s a great tragedy, but we have to move on.”

The Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, said that she was disappointed the two sides could not reach a compromise. The armory, she said, was “the only economic development project in the four years of the mayor and I working together where we haven’t been able to come to an agreement.”

The armory vote highlighted the political difficulties Mr. Bloomberg is likely to face after narrowly winning a third term last month. To the applause of his colleagues in the Council chambers, Councilman G. Oliver Koppell of the Bronx said that although he regretted that the armory would stay vacant, “there is only one administration and one mayor to blame.”

Councilwoman Helen Sears of Queens, who lost her seat in last month’s vote, cast the lone vote in support of the mayor. She also cast the only vote in support of the project last week.

Council members said that in addition to the wage issue, they also objected to Related’s traffic and parking plans for the area, though those issues played a minor role through weeks of negotiations.

The armory, a federal, state and city landmark, was built by the city between 1912 and 1917 and was used to store arms and ammunition and to train troops. Since then, its many lives have included a shelter for homeless women and a concert space.


December 25th, 2009, 10:15 PM
Suggestion to mods: perhaps adding Kingsbridge to the title somewhere?

New York's Community-Labor Divide

A nasty split as the Council finally bucks the mayor

By Tom Robbins

It's just our luck that the first time the City Council actually musters the courage to face down Mike Bloomberg, it's to kill a plan that—whatever its flaws—would have put hard-pressed New Yorkers back to work. Not that it wasn't a huge thrill watching it happen.

A riled-up and all but unanimous Council voted 45-1 last week against the mayor's scheme to hand the cavernous old Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx—property of the City of New York—over to his favorite developer.

The plan was to create a profitable mega-mall, kick-started with some $50 million in tax breaks and subsidies. The developer is the mighty Related Companies, the outfit that has defined the look of ostentatious wealth in the Bloomberg era. They have the soaring Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, with its glittering shops and condos. Right up the street here at Astor Place, they built the hideous "sculpture for living." It is 21 floors of mirrored glass and contains all of 39 apartments.

It was a thrill, too, because Related's top people are personal friends of the richest New Yorker: Steve Ross is one of those who whispered in Bloomberg's ear last year, urging him to grab that third term. Ross was once a business partner of Dan Doctoroff, Bloomberg's old top deputy. Doctoroff is now back in the private sector running something called Bloomberg LP. When Related partner Jeff Blau recently needed references to help him land a lush pad in an exclusive Fifth Avenue co-op, the mayor wrote a nice letter and called people on the board on Blau's behalf (he was still rejected). Among the rich, this is called networking. It could also be called a conflict of interest, but the city board charged with examining such things is too busy scrutinizing school teachers and sanitation workers to notice.

How well is this crew from Related doing? Just last week, they opened their own bank. They modestly called it SJB National, a clever combination of the initials of the first names of Related's owners. Already, they have lined up a billion dollars in deposits. They are prospering even more on Manhattan's far West Side, where Related is the city's designated developer of a $15 billion project that will rise over the sprawling rail yards. This, too, is being accomplished with a massive package of city tax aid and investment.

These are the same people who reacted with outrage when local Bronx residents and unions demanded that retail jobs at the city-subsidized mall be more than part-time employment and pay above minimum wage. "That would make us uncompetitive!" screeched Related's owners, their faces scrunched in horror.

The demand also horrified their friend the mayor. Even as his advisers told him that the Council would vote down the project without a wage deal, Bloomberg thundered against it, offended by the very notion. The Friday before the vote, the wealthiest New Yorker appeared on his regular radio show, hosted by his ever-agreeable pal, John Gambling. "It is not the city's business—it is not government's business—to tell companies that they should pay more," he sputtered. He brought himself up short when he realized he had just denounced the basis of all government wage legislation since the Great Depression. "There are federal minimum-wage laws," he quickly added, "and those are fine."

Moments later, his inner Ayn Rand was back in full control: "The bottom line is the marketplace is the marketplace," he proclaimed.

So true. In fact, the marketplace being what it is, the minute that a gleaming-new, tax-subsidized food store opens at the armory, the longtime merchants across the street are likely to start going out of business. These are firms employing hundreds of local residents, many at union wages, with benefits—merchants who held on through the worst of the "Bronx Is Burning" years.

Those were some of the issues that were persuasive to the Bronx's young new borough president, Ruben Diaz Jr., who became an outspoken champion of a "living wage" deal for the armory. Bronx Council members—bitterly divided over the past year—also became united on the issue. This, in turn, inspired Council speaker Christine Quinn, who is eager to shed her reputation as the mayor's often-compliant partner.

The result, on December 14, was a City Council almost giddy at the prospect of finally defying the mayor. The same council that had largely rolled over for Bloomberg on some 200 previous zoning issues, the same council that cravenly conspired to let him overturn term limits last year, was aboil at the thrill of saying, at long last, "No." You could see it in the smiling, whispered asides as members popped up from their chairs and raced across the aisle to consult with friends and allies. Big Bill de Blasio, who will take over as Public Advocate in a couple of weeks, loped across the room, bending over to murmur encouragement to his troops.

It was a moment of long-delayed political empowerment that was thrilling to watch. And then, just as quickly, the thrill was gone. Outside on the City Hall steps was a handful of dejected-looking representatives of the city's construction building trades. These days, their recession-battered ranks have a 40 percent unemployment rate. The armory plan would have employed 1,000 of their members, jobs that went up in smoke the minute the Council vote was tallied.

In the early days of the coalition that organized to win better-paying jobs at the new armory, all of the big unions were happily onboard. Gary LaBarbera, the ex-Teamster who heads the city's Building and Construction Trades Council, signed on to the goals of the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance. So did the building service workers of Local 32BJ, who are playing a steadily more influential role in city politics. But as the vote grew closer and Bloomberg refused to budge, the construction and building service unions peeled off from the coalition to cut their own deals with Related.

This is how such coalitions often bust apart. At the end of the day, unions are responsible to their own members to make sure they have jobs, and the construction trades have never met a project they didn't like. The joke goes that they would build their own gallows if you let them do it union. As long as there is work to be had, there is nothing better: wages go to $50 an hour, along with deep benefits. On the other hand, for most of the residents in the north Bronx, such union cards are just a dream. Their career paths are more likely to deposit them in one of those part-time, minimum-wage jobs at one of those big stores that Related wanted to create than one pouring the cement used to build it.

This labor-community divide—with one group of workers played off against another—is one of the oldest and saddest chapters in the city. It is made even more bitter by overlays of race. Construction trades are far more integrated than they once were, but blacks and Latinos still don't get their fair share of the work.

It was the dream of Stu Appelbaum, the tough head of the retail workers union who helped lead the fight to win better wages at the armory, that the Kingsbridge battle might become a bridge to start healing that divide. It might even have happened if this city had a union leader of enough stature and clout. What we have instead are a group of warlords vigorously patrolling their own turf. And a mayor only too happy to see them feud.


December 26th, 2009, 05:03 PM
So let me get this strait, they wanted the Mayor to make it a law that everyone working at Chic Fil-A and Duane Reed (in the mall), would be guaranteed $10/hr?

I am SURE that MANY companies would LOVE to move in knowing that they would have to pay EVERY SINGLE WORKER, fomr bus-boy to stock boy, more than what they pay everywhere else in the city.

What a stupid point of contention.

December 26th, 2009, 05:31 PM
Mike's true colors shining through ...

... The demand also horrified their friend the mayor ... "It is not the city's business—it is not government's business—to tell companies that they should pay more," he sputtered. He brought himself up short when he realized he had just denounced the basis of all government wage legislation since the Great Depression. "There are federal minimum-wage laws," he quickly added, "and those are fine."

Moments later, his inner Ayn Rand was back in full control: "The bottom line is the marketplace is the marketplace," he proclaimed.

So true. In fact, the marketplace being what it is, the minute that a gleaming-new, tax-subsidized food store opens at the armory, the longtime merchants across the street are likely to start going out of business. These are firms employing hundreds of local residents, many at union wages, with benefits—merchants who held on through the worst of the "Bronx Is Burning" years.

December 27th, 2009, 04:54 PM
So now the Armory is Walmart?

People can't seem to stay on target with this. I agree that Bloomie tripped over his own two feet on that one, but what he SHOULD have said is that it is not up to the government to start playing favorites with neighborhoods over minimum wage requirements just because the city council, in its efforts to either win votes OR to make sure their own interests are taken care of (good or bad), puts such an unusual demand on them.

BTW, who are these longtime merchants with Union Employees, and what do they pay their guys? When playing the game like this, it is always good to site specifics otherwise we are no better than, again, Walmart and their "save more" campaign.

October 15th, 2010, 06:41 AM
NYU To Focus on Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Plan

New York University's Wagner School of Public Policy will be the latest organization to take a crack at the development conundrum that is the long-vacant Kingsbridge Armory.

Since 1995, Wagner has tackled hundreds of public policy issues facing the city as part of its Capstone program, which puts graduate students and faculty members into teams that spend the year working for a client, analyzing an important issue they face and then providing them with a detailed report that includes recommendations.

This year, one of those teams will have the Armory task force assembled by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. as its client and the redevelopment of the massive, 600,000 square-foot castle on Kingsbridge Road as its project. In a press release, Diaz called the program "highly competitive" and "highly selective."

John DeSio, a spokesman for Diaz, said this is great news for development prospects at the Armory, which is controlled by the city and has been vacant for more than 15 years. Last year, the City Council (with the strong support and leadership of Diaz) killed a proposal to turn the Armory into a shopping mall because the project didn't include guarantees for living wage jobs. Afterward, Mayor Bloomberg (who supported the mall project), said the Armory would remain vacant for the foreseeable future.

"Things, they come through this program, they happen," DeSio said in a phone interview.

Because of this, however, DeSio said, the task force is pushing its time line for coming up with a viable plan for the Armory from the end of this year to April or May of 2011.

"We think this [program] is worth it," DeSio said.

full article (http://www.bronxnewsnetwork.org/2010/10/nyu-to-focus-on-kingsbridge-armory.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BronxNewsNetwork+%28Bronx+New s+Network%29)

January 11th, 2012, 10:23 PM
Bloomberg seeks another shot at Kingsbridge Armory

The enormous Bronx venue, whose redevelopment plan was halted by a living-wage dispute, will get a second chance for a new life from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

By Daniel Massey

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/storyimage/CN/20120111/POLITICS/120119972/AR/0/AR-120119972.jpg&q=80&MaxW=320 (http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/storyimage/CN/20120111/POLITICS/120119972/AR/0/AR-120119972.jpg&q=100&MaxW=800)
Buck Ennis [+] Enlarge (http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/storyimage/CN/20120111/POLITICS/120119972/AR/0/AR-120119972.jpg&q=100&MaxW=800)

The massive Bronx armory that was the subject of a damaging political fight when the City Council shot down its redevelopment in 2009 is getting a second chance.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to announce Thursday in his State of the City speech that a new request for proposals will be issued seeking developers to remake the unused Kingsbridge Armory.

“We don't walk away from things,” Mr. Bloomberg said in an interview Wednesday. “If you don't get something, you come back and try again. That's what our job is.”

The move begins a new chapter for a 575,000-square-foot armory that has become the central symbol of a bitter dispute over a bill to require that all jobs at city-subsidized projects pay a living wage. The Council killed a mall that the Related Cos. proposed for the armory because the developer would not guarantee that retail jobs there would pay at least $10 an hour, plus benefits. For the mayor, it was a high-profile defeat at a time when the economy was faltering and he was desperate to boost employment.

The new request for proposals is similar to one the city issued in September 2006, with two exceptions. First, the winning developer will have the option to lease the building from the city, instead of buy it. And while the previous request spelled out a preference for a mix of commercial, retail, entertainment, recreation and community uses, the new solicitation allows respondents to propose a broader range of uses, although not housing. Two public schools that were part of the previous plan are no longer in the works.

Like the last request for proposals, the one the city plans to unveil Thursday will include a preference but not a mandate for developers who create permanent jobs that pay a living wage.
“We'd always like to have jobs come to the city that pay a lot more, but there's no requirement here,” the mayor said. “I think maybe everybody understands that when you try to force people to do things, it just doesn't work.”

Even without a living wage mandate, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who spearheaded the redevelopment's defeat in 2009, said he was pleased that the landmarked building—believed to be the biggest armory in the world—is getting another shot. Top administration officials have met with Mr. Diaz several times over the past few months, both in the Bronx and at City Hall, to pave the way for Thursday's announcement.

“I'm so happy that we're working with the mayor and the administration and we're moving forward,” Mr. Diaz said. He added that the living wage issue was now being addressed legislatively—a bill supported by a majority of Council members is awaiting Speaker Christine Quinn's decision to bring it to a vote—and shouldn't get in the way of creating jobs at the armory.
“That's a separate debate that we're having at the City Council,” he said. “It's two different things.”

Mr. Diaz said his opposition to Related's proposal was not just over living wage; he also worried the mall would hurt local businesses. But the living wage issue was what drew the most attention, and he has felt heat the past two years for killing private investment and jobs in the borough with the highest unemployment rate.

His about-face on a living-wage mandate at the armory comes as his name is being floated for a citywide office like public advocate. An empty armory would be a chink in his campaign. The nearly 100-year-old building will require extensive repairs just to make it habitable.

“Nobody is interested in having the armory sit vacant,” said Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson, who has been leading the meetings with Mr. Diaz. “Both the borough president and this administration want to create jobs.”

After Mr. Diaz engineered the defeat of Related's proposal, he convened a task force to come up with ideas for the armory's future. He said he expected some of the groups that made proposals to his task force would respond to the city's new request for proposals. The mayor said that several entities have expressed interest, not including Related. Before it decided to issue the request, the administration received an indication from developers that they would respond with serious proposals.

“We've had a number of very credible individuals and organizations come to us with suggestions of what might be feasible,” Mr. Wolfson said.

A spokeswoman for Related said the firm would look at the request for proposals. The National Cycling Association, which proposed to turn the building into a cycling center, is likely to respond. A minor league hockey rink, a film studio and a mega church were among other proposals to the task force.

A community alliance that had aggressively pushed for living wage jobs at the armory responded favorably to the mayor's announcement.

“We’re deliriously happy that we have now gotten another request for proposals,” said Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter, president of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, which helped create the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance. “But we’re cautious because there are very serious negotiation pieces that are still to come.”

The alliance still wants to see living wage jobs at the armory and would prefer a developer that includes schools in its plan. “We’re mindful that there is so much potential here and the jobs are very important,” she said. “We’re looking forward to what comes.”

A spokesman for Living Wage NYC—a coalition led by the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union—issued a statement saying it was zeroed in on the bill being considered by Ms. Quinn.
“The project-by-project RFP approach to economic development has failed New Yorkers,” the statement said. “The living wage bill will deliver real reform and benefit developers, businesses, and working people. So we're focused on passing the bill.”


August 25th, 2012, 04:11 AM
Ice Center With 9 Rinks Is Proposed for Bronx Armory


An artist's version of the Kingsbridge National Ice Center in the Bronx.

Led by the borough president, Ruben Diaz Jr., the group rallied behind the ice center, which they estimated would cost $275 million. They called it the best of six proposals that had been submitted to the city for the redevelopment of the armory, a cavernous fortress that looms over a borough troubled by poverty and unemployment.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation, which is reviewing the proposals, is expected to select a winner by the end of the year. A competing proposal that has received local support calls for creating a $100-million development styled like the Chelsea Market, with weekend stalls for artists and entrepreneurs to sell goods, as well as a six-screen theater and a rock-climbing wall.

Mr. Diaz said a crucial reason for his support for the ice center was that the developer had voluntarily pledged that every job created by the project would pay at least $10 an hour with benefits, or $11.50 an hour without benefits, in line with wage standards set by the city’s recently passed “living wage (http://nyti.ms/Ok8pu9)“ legislation. The development group estimated the center would create about 200 permanent and 1,800 temporary construction positions.

“This development will allow our borough to realize the potential of the Kingsbridge Armory and to do so in a way that will offer the people of the Bronx a chance to earn a decent living,” Mr. Diaz said at a news conference in front of the armory, flanked by Mark Messier, the former New York Rangers star, and the Olympic gold-medal figure skater Sarah Hughes, who are members of the development group making the ice center proposal.

In 2009, Mr. Diaz and other Bronx officials blocked a proposal (http://nyti.ms/PK5olV) to build a shopping mall at the armory, in part because the developer, the Related Companies, balked at their demands that mall workers be paid a living wage, and in part over concerns that it would compete with local stores.

The collapse of that proposal soured Mr. Diaz’s relationship with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, and helped set off a citywide campaign for living-wage legislation that was adopted by the City Council this spring over the mayor’s veto.

Youngwoo & Associates, the developer for the marketplace proposal, released a statement that said it was “very surprised and obviously disappointed” by Mr. Diaz’s endorsement of the ice center. The Youngwoo & Associates proposal, which it estimated would create 800 permanent and 700 construction jobs, called for at least as many jobs paying a living wage as the ice center, the developer said.

The ice center proposal comes as the Bronx’s first public skating rink will open this fall in Van Cortlandt Park. Several Bronx residents walking by the armory on Thursday said that they did not see a need for more ice rinks.

Rafael Rodriguez, 18, said that while he enjoyed ice skating, the community would benefit more from having a mixed-use sports complex that also included basketball courts and tennis courts. “It’s too limited,” he said. “You really don’t need that many ice rinks.”


August 25th, 2012, 04:40 AM
Support Seen for Bronx Hockey Rinks


Two ideas for the Kingsbridge Armory have presented competing visions for the future of the Bronx: a Chelsea Market-style complex with shopping, food stalls and offices versus a celebrity-backed hockey arena drawing people to the city's poorest borough.

Now, the Bronx political establishment has come down firmly on the side of the hockey arena, planning to announce support Thursday and giving the proposal a distinct advantage as the city weighs a decision, said a spokesman for Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Emilio Guerra The Kingsbridge Armory faces competing visions for its future.

"Precisely what's at stake here is what the Bronx looks like five or 10 years from now. What is going to go there is not just about having development, but what kind of development that is," said state Sen. Gustavo Rivera, a Democrat who represents the area and will appear at a rally for the hockey facility Thursday including Mr. Diaz and other elected officials.

The fortresslike armory towers over a diner, a barbershop and a McDonald's in a low-income neighborhood called Kingsbridge northwest of Fordham University. As the borough's most prominent empty building, it has served as a symbol of the Bronx's economic development challenges since 2009 when the City Council rejected a $310 million project to build a mall following a battle over whether the shopping center would pay workers at least $10 an hour.

Politicians were persuaded to support the hockey arena partly because the developer committed to paying workers a "living wage," said a spokesman for Mr. Diaz. A spokesman for the market proposal said the developer, Young Woo, would guarantee that his direct employees get a living wage, but officials said he couldn't extend it to all workers in the project.

The debate over a hockey arena backed by former New York Rangers star Mark Messier and a potentially hip marketplace with food and shops comes as there is increased talk of transforming the Bronx's economy similar to what happened in Brooklyn over the past decade.

While much of the Bronx isn't primed for economic development any time soon, the Kingsbridge Armory plan is among several notable projects completed or under way there, including what is potentially the world's largest rooftop farm in Hunts Point and the environmentally friendly "affordable housing" development, Via Verde.

"The Bronx is the last frontier for development," said Mark Naison, a professor of African-American studies and history at Fordham University.

The plan to build a hockey facility emerged in January after the city sought projects to fill the 575,000 square-foot armory.

With nine rinks and seating for up to 5,000 around the main one, the facility offered a traditional way of generating jobs in the Bronx, following the model of projects like Yankee Stadium: Attract affluent outsiders to come and spend a day or two and spend their money.

But Yankee Stadium has been criticized for drawing spectators who spend money only at the game without generating as much business for local bars and restaurants as expected. Supporters of the hockey plan said the ice rink would be different.

"What attracts me most about this particular project is…they have no intentions of selling a lot inside the armory. People will really have to rely on breakfast lunch and dinner outside," said Marlene Cintron, president of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp.

The plan to transform the armory into an airy market emerged later this year from Mr. Woo, whose proposal captured the imagination of some community leaders.

Dubbed "Mercado Mirabo," it would include a marketplace charging merchants $60 a day to open a retail or food stall, the nation's first six-screen "4-D" movie theater, a museum of hip hop, office space for start-ups and sports facilities such as a gym.

Mr. Woo has pitched the plan as a new model for development that would be more inclusive of the community. "It would be a town square for the Bronx," Mr. Woo said in an interview last month.

The proposal has won strong support from many members of Community Board Seven.

"We have a large population of Latinos in our community, and hockey is not a big thing in their lives. We have waited so long to have some project here, why not offer what the community wants," said Paul Foster, chairman of the community board. The Economic Development Corp. is expected to pick a winning developer by the end of the year. "We're in active negotiations with multiple respondents," said Kyle Sklerov, a spokesman.

Both ideas have caused fears of gentrification in the Bronx. And neighborhood residents walking near the armory Wednesday were split.

Jason Ortiz, 27 years old, said a food market is unnecessary because there are enough stores in the area and farmers markets nearby.

"Why not put something there that will create jobs and give families something fun to do together?" Mr. Ortiz said.

But Robert Spencer, a 46-year-old chef at a hospital in Manhattan, said he was very excited about the prospect of a specialty food market. "It would give you more variety. I think the market would benefit the neighborhood more than a skating rink," he said.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444270404577605833388529466.html?m od=WSJ_NY_RealEstate_LEFTTopStories

August 25th, 2012, 02:59 PM
^ See those towers? I ran the demolition and rebuild of the brickwork at the Armory back in 2002. We torn down the top two sections of both towers (they were fully scaffolded with a connecting bridge) and rebuilt them brick by brick.

The entire parapet was also removed and rebuilt on the main building. Much of what looks like new terra cotta is actually colored concrete that we painstakingly reproduced piece for piece.

September 25th, 2012, 05:35 AM
Mayor Bloomberg's team must make the right choice for Kingsbridge Armory development

Proposed national ice center could be a crown jewel of the city if its business plan works

Michael Schwartz


City Hall is about to choose — or not — a developer who commits to turning the cavernous Kingsbridge Armory from a white elephant into an asset.

Mayor Bloomberg has been presented with two proposals — neither of them as bankable as the retail mall shot down three years ago by the misfeasance of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz and the City Council.

That $300 million plan, which included the creation of 1,000 construction jobs and 1,200 permanent positions, was an all but certain business proposition. Its potential replacements require leaps of faith.

While Diaz is desperate to recover from the blunder of killing the mall deal, Bloomberg and Economic Development Corp. President Seth Pinsky must refrain from handing over the armory for development until they have high confidence of long-term, roaring success.

The building is a sprawling hulk that has 110-foot-high ceilings and covers almost 5 acres. One contender would fill it with the world’s largest indoor ice sports center, complete with nine rinks. The other envisions a variety of enterprises, including a 4-D movie theater, a market for artisans and food vendors, a hip hop museum and sports facilities.

Gauging the merits is an exercise in guesswork.

A partnership headed by former Wall Streeter Kevin Parker is backing the Kingsbridge National Ice Center. Ex-Rangers star Mark Messier and Olympic figure skating gold medalist Sarah Hughes are on the team.

The plan calls for investing $275 million to create a skating facility that would tap what the sponsors say is a huge unmet demand for ice time from professional, school and college hockey teams, as well as youth and adult recreational leagues.

The partnership says the demand will mean at least 2 million visitors a year — and enough revenue to finance construction and operating costs through rink, locker and equipment rentals, ticket sales to events, parking and other sources.

Parker’s group also promises to establish a nonprofit organization that would raise donations to create a skating and hockey program for Bronx kids, modeled after a successful one started for inner-city youth in Philadelphia by Ed Snider, owner of the Flyers.

The second proposal, called Mercado Mirabo, is the brainchild of developer Young Woo, whose theory is that two midsize retail anchors, a movie multiplex including the city’s first 4-D equipped theater and a Crunch gym will support his $100 million construction plan.

Beyond that, Woo would rent small pieces of the armory floor to entrepreneurs who would sell their own wares, such as designer clothing, jewelry, and arts and crafts. Similar expos have been popular in the Meatpacking District, at the DeKalb Market in Brooklyn and at the Union Square holiday market.

Woo also sees potential revenue in wall-climbing and in offering work space to startup entrepreneurs. What works would stay, what doesn’t would be replaced.

In concept, bringing an ice sports mecca to the city is the more attractive of the proposals. But the question for Bloomberg and Pinsky is whether either proposal would be self-sustaining.

The Bronx must not suffer another epic failure.


January 8th, 2013, 09:31 PM
Ice palace or shopping mall? Kingsbridge decision nearsEither way, officials hope to see big job gains in the Bronx.
Daniel Geiger (http://www.crainsnewyork.com/staff/Daniel-Geiger/Daniel-Geiger) @dangeiger79 (http://twitter.com/dangeiger79)
Published: January 6, 2013 - 5:59 am

A week into the new year, a decision to convert the Bronx's Kingsbridge Armory into either a massive ice-skating center or an urban mall finally appears to be near.
A spokesman for the New York City Economic Development Corp., the city agency that is weighing the two competing bids to redevelop the hulking four-acre property, said it would announce the long-awaited winning plan in the next few days.
Having hinted at—and missed—deadlines for a decision last summer and then at year's end, the city has felt pressure to finally make up its mind.
"We were expecting something before the end of the year, and we were disappointed," said Marlene Cintron, head of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp., who is hoping the armory could be a salve for the county's 11.8% unemployment rate, the highest in the state.

The two proposals are vastly different. The ice center, which would cost about $275 million to build, would rank as the biggest skating facility in the nation. The project's backers predict it could make the Bronx a nexus for ice sports like figure skating and hockey. Turning the 103-year-old armory into an urban mall, on the other hand, would cost a relatively modest $100 million and would result in a large portion of the space being devoted to a mix of small local vendors and larger national retail chains.
'Sense of urgency'"There is a sense of urgency to move, since either one of them is going to create jobs," said Ms. Cintron, who added that she prefers the ice rink but would support whichever plan the EDC crowns.

For years, the city has wanted to convert the facility into something that could become a sparkplug for economic activity in the area. An ambitious $310 million plan by mega-developer the Related Cos. in 2009 to turn the building into a big-box mall was rejected at the last minute.

Despite strong backing from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others, it fell victim to intense opposition from local groups, who feared its impact on local retailers, and who insisted that the stores pay higher wages. To transcend that defeat and have work begin on the armory during his tenure, Mr. Bloomberg needs a winner to be crowned quickly. The delays have prompted questions about whether more than just indecision is complicating the bid. Backers of the skating rink—a group of banking executives who have grandly dubbed their proposal the Kingsbridge National Ice Center—have predicted 2 million annual visitors. But despite those lofty projections, the group has yet to produce assurances it can secure needed financing. In that regard, Youngwoo & Associates, the developer proposing the urban mall, holds a seeming advantage.

"We have a letter of intent from a major institutional partner to finance 70% of our project's cost," said Adam Zucker, an executive at Youngwoo, who notes his competitor doesn't have a comparable commitment from a lender.
Ice-rink industry insiders, meanwhile, have mixed opinions whether KNIC's goal of attracting 2 million visitors annually is realistic. A spokesman for the nation's largest ice center, the Schwan Super Rink outside Minneapolis, said that it attracts nearly 2 million visitors as a venue for youth and adult hockey teams. He also noted that hockey is a statewide passion in Minnesota, a claim that no one can make about New York.

Erik Ekstein, an operator of a new rink near the armory in Van Cortlandt Park, draws a picture of a limited clientele in the Bronx.
"We expect to see somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 skaters this year," he said.

The KNIC plan may also face another competitor. SL Green, the city's largest commercial landlord, is contemplating development of a four-rink facility in Rye Brook, according to written reports. That location is just 20 miles north of the armory in Westchester County, where interest in hockey is higher than in the Bronx.
Youngwoo's plan comes with its own uncertainties. Bronx politicians, including Borough President Ruben Diaz, have feared that new retail space at the armory could be a drain on nearby established stores along Fordham Road.

The developer has promised a collection of small-scale shops, akin to the markets at Bryant Park and Union Square during the holidays, as a solution. But questions have arisen as to what types of merchants could be attracted to such an out-of-the-way location in the Bronx, and whether they could generate enough revenue to help pay for overhead costs at the property.

Read more: http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20130106/REAL_ESTATE/301069966#ixzz2HRRHBCb6

February 9th, 2015, 10:22 AM
This one has been quiet. Below is the most recent news I could find. Anyone know if there is any work going on?

Kingsbridge National Ice Center Secures 99-Year Lease

BY DANIELLE SCHLANGER (http://commercialobserver.com/author/danielle-schlager/) 10/16/14 11:01AM

Documents have been finalized with the New York City Economic Development Corporation to secure the ice center’s future, adding new momentum into the transformation of Kingsbridge Armory. Though the plan for the ice center was approved by the City Council last December (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/07/nyregion/plans-for-huge-ice-center-in-bronx-stall.html?_r=0), two lawsuits had slowed the process from moving forward.

“The lease signing is an important step towards the realization of this project, and the significant economic benefits it will generate for the Bronx,” said Kyle Kimball, president of the NYCEDC, in a prepared statement.

No commercial real estate firms were involved in the deal; KNIC worked directly with the city.

The Armory, a New York City landmark, is also included on the New York State and National Register of Historic Places. The structure has sat vacant on West Kingsbridge Road since 1996 and will be converted into a year-round ice center with 750,000 square feet of usable space and nine rinks, addressing the dearth of ice space in the greater New York metropolitan area. It will also include a wellness center and ample space for community programs.

Developers are also touting the ice center as a catalyst for the local economy. It is anticipated that roughly 890 construction jobs and 267 permanent jobs at the ice center will be created. The ice center will prioritize hiring local residents.

June 9th, 2015, 02:17 AM
A Peek Inside The World’s Largest Armory

June 9, 2015

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/377/18625456745_f11b21873f_o.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/scoutingny/18625456745)

For scale, you could squeeze two full-sized football fields onto its drill floor.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/402/18002741784_95b8464333_o.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/scoutingny/18002741784)

Below that drill deck, the Kingsbridge Armory extends deep into the bowels of the city.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8880/18620836212_74cab4d48d_o.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/scoutingny/18620836212)

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/287/18004794703_a237a31e60_o.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/scoutingny/18004794703)

Around the corner is the second remnant – the armory’s old gym (in later years, used for boxing matches):

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/473/18437681838_16b159a479_o.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/scoutingny/18437681838)

On this staircase leading up to a higher level…

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/545/18437736530_6e9d3ebec8_o.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/scoutingny/18437736530)

The main entranceway is in gorgeous condition:

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/562/18627599241_91047f96a5_o.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/scoutingny/18627599241)

Paratus Et Fidelis means Faithful And Ready:

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/392/18002747654_22b9c6e963_o.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/scoutingny/18002747654)

A peak into a rounded room in one of the main turrets:

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/471/18620811442_ace2b7a6e5_o.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/scoutingny/18620811442)

More pictures by Scouting NY (http://www.scoutingny.com/a-peek-inside-the-worlds-largest-armory/)

August 6th, 2015, 06:16 PM
problems with this project!

http://www.norwoodnews.org/wp-content/uploads/breaking-bronx-long.jpg (http://www.norwoodnews.org/breaking-bronx/)KNIC Lease in Escrow Pending Full Funding of Project (http://www.norwoodnews.org/id=17766&story=knic-lease-in-escrow-pending-full-funding-of-project/)April 29, 2015 at 8:50 AM

http://www.norwoodnews.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Armory-Lease-In-Waiting-Picture-640x427.jpg (http://www.norwoodnews.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Armory-Lease-In-Waiting-Picture-640x427.jpg)CONSTRUCTION FOR AN ice skating arena at the Kingsbridge Armory (pictured) may not happen until March 2016, more than two years after the New York City Council approved the project.
Photo by Adi Talwar

Though developers of the Kingsbridge National Ice Center (KNIC), slated to be built inside the cavernous Kingsbridge Armory, ensure the project is progressing, there are signs it hasn’t churned along as much as it wants the public to think.
Part of what could explain KNIC Partners LLC’s lax movement on building the Armory is the group’s lack of financing. It remains short of the $350 million needed to fully bankroll the project, prompting the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) to place the project’s lease in escrow. KNIC would have to show it has funds needed for the first phase of the project to move forward before the lease is released from escrow.
KNIC is allowed to access the Armory, under a license with the EDC, but it still can’t begin construction until the money is secured.
“The Armory is a unique asset, therefore KNIC is obligated to demonstrate full funding to complete the first phase of the development before they start construction,” said an EDC spokesperson. “Placing the lease in escrow is not uncommon on a large complex project such as this and will help move this important and exciting project forward to the benefit of the Kingsbridge community.”
Under the lease terms, KNIC is mandated to show it has the required funds by March 2016 to begin phase one of the project, which is obligated to be completed by August 2018.
“Our fundraising is on schedule and we are continuing with the forward progress of this transformative project,” said Mark Messier, CEO of KNIC LLC. “We are excited about the support we have received from investors and the community – all partners in helping us make this inspiring project a reality.”
But phase one is just half of the project. Phase one of the agreement requires KNIC to build five rinks, a parking facility with 400 spots and the 50,000 square feet of community space by August 2018. Phase two will contain the last 4 rinks and construction must be complete by August 2019.
The revelations shed light into some behind-the-scenes dealings from KNIC, which for months has insisted the project is in good standing. The New York City Economic Development Corporation, under the Bloomberg Administration, cleared KNIC to lease the building for 99 years, pegged as a global game changer for the Bronx. A Community Benefits Agreement worked out between KNIC and community groups promised the community a total of $1 billion in benefits, living wage jobs and 50,000 square feet of community space.
The news also comes amid KNIC’s consideration of funds from EB5, a program that seeks out foreign investors to provide monies for a project in exchange for fast-tracked legal entry into the U.S. Investment monies by foreign investors are mandated to produce American jobs, according to terms laid out by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Building Permits
With a project in escrow, KNIC is currently barred from repurposing the project, which does require construction permits. As it stands, KNIC has no approved city building permit, which it had initially applied for in July 2013 during the lengthy public review process.
KNIC’s first application for an alteration permit through the New York City Department of Buildings was completed by SCI Architects, P.C., which designed blueprints for Madison Square Garden. The plans were subsequently rejected by DOB, which some developers say is often standard operating procedure, pointing to the inherent bureaucracy within New York City government. A developer is normally rejected, and asked to go before the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) to apply for a variance. The BSA eventually changed the zoning status of the Armory from an R6 to a C4, which allows for a “physical and cultural establishment” such as an ice rink.
But DOB objections remain in limbo. Those include an approval by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), which was required to review KNIC’s alterations to the exterior of the building given the Armory’s landmark status.
“Since being disapproved in 2013, [KNIC] has not remedied objections to their application that must be made to receive construction permits,” said DOB spokesman Alex Schnell in an email. “Applications for permits that are submitted to the Department must be in compliance with all applicable regulations in the building code and zoning resolution to receive approval during a plan exam.”
The permits are critical to KNIC’s alterations of the Armory, which include the installation of a 50’ by 10’ illuminated sign and eight banner signs onto the Armory’s exterior. In 2013, LPC approved KNIC to alter the outside so long as it has an approved permit from DOB. The agency has yet to receive one, according to an LPC spokeswoman.
KNIC was prevented from working on the project for most of last year following several lawsuits between lead developer Kevin Parker and a trio of principals once linked to the project. In lawsuits filed against Parker, plaintiffs had mentioned Parker’s inexperience in getting a project of this size off the ground.
The news adds to the string of delays for the Armory.

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