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Thread: Kingsbridge Armory Conversion

  1. #31
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    Oct 2002


    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

    Buck Ennis [+] Enlarge

    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.”

  2. #32
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    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“ 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 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.”

  3. #33
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    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.

  4. #34


    ^ 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.

  5. #35
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    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.

  6. #36


    Ice palace or shopping mall? Kingsbridge decision nears

    Either way, officials hope to see big job gains in the Bronx.

    Daniel Geiger @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:

  7. #37


    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 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, 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.

  8. #38
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    A Peek Inside The World’s Largest Armory

    June 9, 2015

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

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

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

    On this staircase leading up to a higher level…

    The main entranceway is in gorgeous condition:

    Paratus Et Fidelis means Faithful And Ready:

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

    More pictures by Scouting NY

  9. #39
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    west village


    problems with this project!

    KNIC Lease in Escrow Pending Full Funding of Project

    April 29, 2015 at 8:50 AM

    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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