- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.Q6qPkwFC.dpuf Diaz Stalls on Amory Project, Waits for Response on Draft Benefits Agreement from Developer | Bronx News Networkbronx

Friday, August 21, 2009

Diaz Stalls on Amory Project, Waits for Response on Draft Benefits Agreement from Developer

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. has asked for and received an extension on his deadline to submit his recommendation to the city regarding the Kingsbridge Armory mall project, saying he wants to see how the developer responds to a proposed Community Benefits Agreement (CBA).

Diaz is in the process of weighing the pros and cons of the Related Companies’ land use review application, which, if approved, would pave the way for the developer’s plan to turn the 575,000-square-foot Armory into a retail shopping mall. He was supposed to say whether or not he supports the project by early next week, but, with the extension, he now has until Sept. 8.

Earlier this week, Diaz’s office sent Related a draft of an agreement that would bring the community addition benefits from the project aside from new shopping options and low-paying retail jobs. The agreement was a collaborative effort between Diaz’s office, Community Board 7, the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance (KARA) and local elected officials.

“We do not want to say yes or no on the ULURP application until we have some idea from the developer regarding their direction on the CBA,” said Diaz spokesperson John DeSio, in a e-mail.

According to Greg Faulkner, the chairman of Community Board 7, which voted yes on the project on the condition, among others, that a substantial and enforceable CBA be signed by Related, the draft CBA included a living wage requirement for tenants at the Amory mall, something KARA has lobbied hard for over the past year.

Related has said it will walk away from the project before including living wage requirements. Related officials could not be reached by the time of this post, but we'll keep trying. The Riverdale Press reported that Related is still reviewing the CBA document.

Also included in the draft CBA are local hiring goals, labor neutrality (to protect unionization efforts) and mechanisms to protect and create affordable housing in the area.

The CBA also included language excluding a big-box supermarket at the Armory. Related had carved out space in the Armory for a 60,000-square-foot supermarket and Board 7 members had voted to support a new supermarket with organic food options. But Morton Williams, a local supermarket chain, had lobbied hard against an Armory supermarket and had the support of the entire Bronx delegation to the City Council.

CBA’s have become common practice for big development projects in California and have gained popularity in other parts of the country, but the few signed in New York City have been criticized for being unsubstantial and lacking true community involvement. The Armory CBA would be the first driven by community voices, including Board 7 and KARA.


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