Elected officials and KARA activists rally against tax breaks for Bronx developer, Related Companies, which plans to turn the Kingsbridge Armory into a shopping center.
Concerned Bronx residents expressed frustration on the steps of City Hall today as they rallied against giving tax breaks to the developer of the Kingsbridge Armory, Related Companies, which intends to turns the armory into a shopping center. The Industrial Development Authority (IDA) held a public hearing today to obtain community feedback on Related's application that requests $17.8 million in tax breaks.
The Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance (KARA) organized the rally and has urged the IDA to postpone its decision until Related agrees to sit down with KARA and establish a Community Benefits Agreement that includes living wage jobs (40 hours/week at $10 an hour plus benefits), employment preference for Bronx residents, community space for youth and senior programs, schools to alleviate overcrowding, and the option for employees to unionize.
"This is probably one of the most important issues in the Bronx today," said Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera. "It's time that companies contribute more. We [Bronx residents] need a community bailout plan."
Councilman Oliver Koppell acknolwedged that the development project at the armory represents an opportunity to restore the historic landmark but he added, "Related must sit down with KARA and negotiate a proper agreement."
"We are not making outrageous demands," said Comptroller William C. Thompson. "We don't want to see development that pushes our people out."
During the hearing community leaders and residents, including representatives for Congressman Jose Serrano and State Senator Pedro Espada, urged the IDA to postpone its decision until Related agrees to meet with KARA.
IDA's board of directors will meet next Wednesday, March 11, at 9:00 a.m. (at IDA's office in downtown Manhattan, 110 William Street, 4th floor) to decide whether to reject or accept Related's application. The meeting will be open to the public and IDA encourages community members to attend.
More on the tax breaks issue in the latest issue of the Norwood News.