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Thread: Kingsbridge Armory Conversion

  1. #1

    Default Kingsbridge Armory Conversion

    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

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  4. #4


    Bronx Groups Demand a Voice in a Landmark’s Revival

    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.

    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 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.

    G. Paul Burnett/The New York Times
    The main drill hall is 300 feet by 600 feet.

    G. 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 The New York Times Company

  5. #5

    Default Shopping for approval: Public hearing on Kingsbridge Armory mall plan

    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 armory, the city starts the public approval process for the Related Companies' 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, spokeswoman for the city's Economic Development Corp.

    The hearing, which will start at 6 p.m. at the 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 Community and Clergy Coalition and the Retail, 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, 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'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 shopping mall a few miles south at the old Bronx Terminal Market.

    Copyright 2008

  6. #6
    Forum Veteran
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    Feb 2008
    New York City


    If "The main drill hall is 300 feet by 600 feet.", then where the heck is the other 320,000 square feet??

  7. #7
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003


    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.

  8. #8


    From The Number 4 Subway - Kingsbridge Road Station, 9/24/08

  9. #9


    That's a nice photograph.

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    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.

  11. #11


    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

    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.

  12. #12


    The rendering in post #5 shows the cones removed from the twin towers.


  13. #13


    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.


  14. #14
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    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."

  15. #15
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003


    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.


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