- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.Q6qPkwFC.dpuf Live Blogging From Armory IDA Hearing: Tax Breaks Approved, Land Use Review to Begin | Bronx News Networkbronx

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Live Blogging From Armory IDA Hearing: Tax Breaks Approved, Land Use Review to Begin

So, despite the efforts of Bill Thompson and at least one other board member, the IDA has approved an estimated $17.8 million in tax breaks for the Related Companies to renovate the Kingsbridge Armory into a gigantic shopping mall.

Now, all that's left is for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be completed (something that will probably get done in the next month or so) and then the project will go through the city's land use review process, which will go through Community Board 7 (which is also working to secure further community benefits), the borough president's office (which has expressed support for benefits agreement) and the City Council (where Majority Leader Joel Rivera has expressed his support for a community benefits agreement). This will take a few months, probably.

This is a setback for the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance (KARA). It was hoping to leverage the IDA tax breaks into a community benefits agreement (CBA). But all is not lost; through the land use review process, they will stay be able to make their case that the community should get more out than a shopping center, low-paying retail jobs and some low-cost space for community programming.

Specifically, KARA wants Related to require employers at the Armory to pay living wages (about $10 an hour, plus benefits), give job preferences to local residents (during and after construction), offer more community space and allow employees the option to unionize.

The living wage requirement would be unprecedented in New York City, but has been included in CBA's for projects in California. Related hasn't talked specifics, but says it's willing to negotiate some type of benefits agreement, as it did for the Gateway Center Mall (the overhaul of the Bronx Terminal Market near Yankee Stadium). Though derided by critics as lacking community input, lacking reserved space for local merchants and being virtually unenforceable, that CBA has produced a good deal of job training and Related has reportedly complied with the terms it signed off on. (There are living wage and minority hiring provisions in the Gateway CBA, but they are not expressly enforceable with regards to the mall's future tenants,)

This is a complicated issue, one the Norwood News has reported on extensively and will continue to as the process moves forward. Again, stay tuned.

-IDA hearing reporting by Ivonne Salazar


  1. so the leverage is gone and all the eggs are in the developer's basket, leaving community advocates in the position of having to beg for inclusion and fairness, yet again.

    unfortunately, recent history has shown that when this is the case, the developer goes about its merry way unimpeded. at this point, why would anyone expect that this armory project will be any different?

    this is a sad commentary on community self-determination in the city of ny and in the bronx in particular.

    gee, it sure seems a few lifetimes ago that the 'don't dump on the bronx' campaign was launched, doesn't it?

  2. Is this really "dumping" on the Bronx? It's not like they're trying to build a toxic waste plant or a prison. All this NIMBY nonsense is anti-development and anti-progress. KARA should be happy that people are willing to invest money in the area. What is so dastardly about a shopping mall and maybe (gasp!) some decent grocery options? The state of NY and the federal government already have 'minimum wage' regulations. How can KARA think they have the right to dictate what a minimum wage can be? They are not a legislative body, nor an executive body that can enforce such minimums. Full steam ahead. Let's get some people to work building and then working in the Armory ASAP. We jobs in this country - not vacant projects.

  3. it is indeed dumping on the bronx if the jobs you talk about go to people who are not residents of the bronx and/or are for below livable wages. tragically, that has been the recent history on large-scale projects like these.

    Bronx communities bear the significant burdens the construction brings, but don't share in the most significant benefits. THAT's what this is about.

  4. So Bronx residents wouldn't shop/eat there? No Bronx residents would work there? You just sound foolish, GAX. You can't dictate unreal standards for development. This is not "dumping" on the Bronx. Dumping is when something goes in a place when the place really doesn't want or need it. If/when the Armory opens for business, it will be packed with Bronx residents taking advantage of the new shopping options beyond 99 cent stores and bodegas, and there will be many Bronx residents WORKING in the stores and prior to that in the construction...

  5. follow the money. y

    you talk about bronxites shopping and eating there. that's bronxites SPENDING their money, not making the money. and if there's no CBA, who would be MAKING the money?

    also, if there's not a proper CBA, then projects like this might not benefit the people of the bronx and we're past the time that we can simply hope. we need contractual assurances.

    and you say that bronxires will be working on the construction... first of all, without a CBA, that's a dream you've made up because those jobs will be filled by union members who, the numbers clearly indicate, are NOT people from the Bronx. and second of all, construction jobs are nice for temporary work, but are not the kinds of jobs that management and other store jobs will REALLY stimulate the local economy and provide Bronxites with wages that will feed their families.

    bottom line, if there's a proper agreement, there's a better chance that the people of the bronx will benefit and that's my interest.

  6. and let me add that on a national level it's become clear that tax breaks for big corps like related do not stimulate the economy as you suggest. in fact, we have all learned that this manner of business on all levels has essentially ruined our economy.

    and so with this opportunity to set the concept right, the message needed to be sent that if you want to get tax breaks, which is in essence a donation from every one of us, and build in our community, then you need to be prepared to be a full partner with the community.

    unfortunately, now that the tax breaks have been given, there's no further leverage to negotiate the best deal for bronxites.

  7. Garry, let's not be so pessimistic. There are plenty of people who will be eager to work at the Armory once development is complete. Let's not forget the teens, people seeking a little extra on the side part time, seniors who may not want to just stay home and others who might not be looking for their dream job just yet. I totally see where you are coming from , but let's not overlook these groups.


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