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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Kingsbridge Armory Update, Part 1

Two big pieces of Kingsbridge Armory-related news to get to this afternoon.

The first is that Community Board 7 is holding it's hearing on the Related Companies' redevelopment proposal next Wednesday night, June 24 at the Lehman College faculty dining room. The college is located at 250 Bedford Park Blvd, right off of the 4 Train.

Board members are bracing for a huge turnout of residents, community groups, unions and elected officials and encouraging people who want to speak to call the board office to register. The number is (718) 933-5650.

The hearing will begin at 6:30 p.m. People have until 7 p.m. to sign up to speak. At 7, Related will give a 15-minute presentation about its vision for a revamped Armory. That will be followed by what promises to be a steady stream of speakers until the hearing comes to an end at 9:45 p.m.

Following the hearing, the Community Board 7 Land Use Committee will meet on July 7 at the board offices to discuss their recommendation to the full board, which will meet on July 14 and take a final vote on whether or not to approve of the project as it stands. (Remember: the board's vote is advisory, but will carry weight as the project moves on to the borough president's office and then to the City Council for final approval.)

To recap: The Community Board 7 Kingsbridge Armory redevelopment meeting is set for Wednesday, June 24 at the Lehman College faculty dining room at 6:30. p.m.

At the Board 7 meeting last night, members were promising all kinds of fireworks and special guest appearances. Land Use Chairman Ozzie Brown said good friend Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul and Mary fame) would be showing up to lend his support for the community and the board and Brown's vision for the Armory as a "Social/Cultural/Educational-Venture Mall." (Yarrow, by the way, is working on an anti-bullying campaign called Operation Respect.)

Brown said Related has been very receptive and responsive to the Board's ideas and that they were still working hard -- along with the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance (KARA) and the borough president's office -- toward the signing of a binding and enforceable Community Benefits Agreement.

1 comment:

    Avi Kaner
    Morton Williams Supermarkets
    718-933-5910 (office)

    Morton Williams Supermarkets Defends Itself – A David vs. Goliath Story

    The story here is how the Related Company is using its favored nation status with the current administration, as well as financial subsidies, to destroy local tax-paying businesses like ours, Morton Williams Supermarkets, that have been loyal to the Bronx.

    Related’s plans for such a retail use would violate the terms of the city’s RFP which stated “proposed commercial and retail uses must expand and enhance the current mix of retail offerings in the area, and endeavor to not duplicate or directly compete with the existing retail uses.” Suddenly, Related announced its intention to disregard this RFP requirement. Instead Related plans a mammoth 60,000 square foot supermarket in the armory that would have a catastrophic impact on Morton Williams Supermarkets and our company-wide hiring office across the street.

    Morton Williams is a good union employer that has been headquartered in the Kingsbridge community for over fifty years, employing over 450 Kingsbridge area residents with full-time union jobs, health care, and other benefits.

    Morton Williams Supermarkets and its workers have every right to defend ourselves against a billionaire developer that has been afforded special treatment in the form of rich subsidies because of his ties to people in power.

    According to Morton Sloan, President of Morton Williams Supermarkets, “The Related Company has spent millions of dollars on lobbyists; lawyers, and consultants to advance its multi-billion dollar real estate portfolio. We are trying to fight back in the little way we can. This is a David vs. Goliath story.” Regarding the tens of millions of dollars of government subsidies and tax breaks to the Related Company, Morton Sloan states “to destroy our business with government subsidies is simply an outrage. The fact that taxes paid by businesses like Morton Williams will be used to subsidize a giant retail competitor magnifies the unfairness.”

    Avi Kaner, VP of Morton Williams Supermarkets explains that “given our history, investment and commitment no one should be surprised that we are opposed to the use of the Kingsbridge armory for a supermarket / warehouse club use.” He continues “it would, without a doubt, represent a lethal blow to our two Bronx stores which would positively close as a result. It will also be a punishing blow against the neighborhood with the eventual elimination of many hundreds of Morton Williams union jobs as our hiring and corporate office will be forced to move to a location outside of the Bronx.”

    Morton Williams, as well as its many competitors, have hired new immigrants and neighborhood residents for decades – all without a penny of subsidies and tax incentives. We welcome fair competition, but will fight unfair massive government-subsidized competition to the best of our abilities. To this date, The Mayor’s office has not yet responded to a letter expressing our concerns.


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