The Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance (KARA) is holding a rally on the steps of City Hall at noon tomorrow, Thursday. KARA, a collective of local nonprofit groups, unions, local politicians and community leaders, wants to acknowledge the fact that the city finally chose a developer (The Related Companies) for the long-vacant Armory project.
But they're also not satisfied.
What's most glaringly absent from Related's plan (or any of the other proposals) is a pledge to build schools on the site adjacent to main Armory building, which is currently occupied by a National Guard unit. More schools to help alleviate serious overcrowding problems has been the primary goal of KARA (and its founder, the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition) for the past 12 years. Unfortunately, the city doesn't think there's a need for more schools based on dubious demographic projections.
They also want to push the city to hire local residents (and pay them well) both during and after construction is done on the Armory.
Here's the Times' story on the Armory.
And here's the complete text of the press release:
New York City, April 21, 2008 -- New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) today announced the selection of Related Companies to redevelop the 575,000-square-foot Kingsbridge Armory in the Kingsbridge Heights section of the Bronx.
The landmark armory occupies a full City block at 29 West Kingsbridge Road. Related's proposal for the unique structure, 'The Shops at the Armory,' calls for destination anchor retail development, coupled with specialty and local retail, restaurants, a cinema and community space. Other proposed features include a recreational facility, catering and banquet space, outdoor open space with a seasonal farmers' market and café, and parking for 400 cars. The project will generate about 1,800 construction jobs and 2,000 permanent jobs. Related plans to invest about $310 million to acquire and redevelop the Armory.
"This creative proposal represents an innovative design, coupled with a broad combination of uses for this unique City asset," said NYCEDC President Seth W. Pinsky. "The project will serve as a catalyst for strong economic growth in the surrounding community. It will also attract visitors from the entire New York region."
"Today's announcement and the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory is the culmination of years of collaboration between the City and the Community," said Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr. "I look forward to working with Related Companies and the community to ensure that there will be job opportunities for residents, opportunities for local businesses, neighborhood improvements and adequate space for community use. The Kingsbridge Armory project is a great example of the importance of public and private partnership in building a stronger Bronx and a stronger city."
State Assemblyman Jose Rivera said, "I am very happy that this important project for the Bronx is moving forward with a qualified developer. We expect the redevelopment will result in many quality jobs for local residents and bring new life to our neighborhood."
Components of the project include 25 to 35 retail stores and an anchor department store, rooftop public open space and a landscaped public plaza at the intersection of West Kingsbridge Road and Reservoir Avenue. Related's proposal was selected as the result of a Request for Proposals which was crafted by NYCEDC and the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Task Force, which included City, State and Federal elected officials, community representatives and City agencies.
"It is truly a pleasure to know that after years of diligent work, we will finally be able to see the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory," said Councilmember Maria Baez. "This project will serve as an economic stimulus for the 14th Council District, the Borough of the Bronx, and the entire City of New York. I feel delighted to know that the people of this community will now be able to enjoy all of the social, economic and recreational benefits that will be derived from this development. I will continue to advocate for the placing of two additional schools adjacent to the armory to remedy school overcrowding in our communities."
"Today's designation brings us one step closer to the day when the Kingsbridge Armory is a premier citywide attraction and major economic center for the Bronx," said Gregory Faulkner, Community Board 7 Chair. "As we move ahead, I look forward to the opportunity to create a meaningful dialogue between the developer and the community. A dialogue I hope will focus on such important issues such as living wage, community benefits and jobs, both during and after construction."
Jeff T. Blau, President of Related Companies said, "This project is a direct result of the skillful efforts and vision of the City's five borough economic development program under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Robert C. Lieber, NYCEDC President Seth W. Pinsky and their staffs. The leadership of Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr., Assemblyman Jose Rivera and Councilmember Maria Baez has been essential to the creation of the plan for Kingsbridge Armory that will build on our collective success at The Hub and Gateway Center at Bronx Terminal Market to bring more jobs, increased investments and even greater opportunity to the Bronx. We look forward to working with all stakeholders to create 'The Shops at The Armory' – a world-class retail, entertainment and community destination for visitors throughout the City."
"The Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance (KARA), our coalition of unions, churches, and community groups, has been working with the support of our elected officials, for equitable development at the Kingsbridge Armory," said Ronn Jordan, President, Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition. "Now, we will continue to work to have badly needed schools built on the parcel adjacent to the Armory."
The developer will use low-impact development techniques and green building technology and will strive to achieve at least a LEED Silver rating for the core and shell of the armory. The project must obtain a number of approvals in connection with its design, including those required by New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and the New York State Historic Preservation Office. It is also subject to public approvals under the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) and 384(b) 4 Section of the City Charter.
Built between 1912 and 1917, the Kingsbridge Armory was designed by the architecture firm of Pilcher and Tachau and is an outstanding example of military architecture featuring Romanesque arches, vaulted ceilings, decorative brick and terra cotta, and large battlement towers. It is thought to be the largest armory in the world, containing 575,000 square feet of space, the heart of which is a drill floor measuring 180,000 square feet, more than a full City block. On the south façade, the ornate head-house with its impressive double-height entrance foyer and vaulted ceiling serves as a grand entrance to the building. The City has invested about $30 million in capital funds for environmental cleanup in the building, replacement of its roof and repairs to the façade.
About Related Companies
Related Companies, formed thirty-five years ago, is considered the most prominent privately-owned real estate development firm in the United States. Headquartered in New York City, Related has offices and major developments in Aspen/Snowmass, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco, with divisions in development, acquisitions, property management, marketing and sales. To date, Related has developed or acquired real estate assets worth more than $15 billion with another $9 billion currently in development. In 2004, Related completed the development of New York City's newest landmark, Time Warner Center.
New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City's primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC's mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City's competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City's many opportunities.