Thursday, January 12, 2012

City accepting proposals to develop Kingsbridge Armory

Thought to be the largest armory in the world.
We're going to have a full story on the Kingsbridge Armory in next week's paper, but here's the basic information you should know (because, as I assume, you all love to talk about Bronx economic development at the local watering holes just like I do).
  • In 2009, the City Council killed The Related Cos. attempt to put a shopping mall in the armory because they would not commit to having their tenants pay a living wage
    • Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. was, and still is, one of the biggest supporters of a living wage, which would require developers who take significant subsidies from the city to pay at least $10 an hour with benefits, or $11.50 without
    • Diaz also did not support the shopping mall project because it would compete with local merchants in the area, a fact often overlooked when discussing the project
  • Since then, Diaz created the Kingsbridge Armory Task Force with local elected officials to search for better alternatives
    • Most notably, NYU's Wagner School of Public Service helped the task force by drawing up a comprehensive report
    • NYU and the task force found interested bidders that would use the armory for anything from a sports arena (focusing on hockey) to a mega-church
  • This week: Crain's first reports that the city is issuing a new Request for Proposal for the armory. The RFP does not require a living wage be instituted, but preference will be given to those projects that do.
    • Diaz said on NY1 that he is OK with this and that the living wage bill will continue to be fought in the City Council, where advocates are still fighting to gain support
So there are the highlights. As Crain's reported:
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.

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