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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Showing Solidarity for Armory Benefits Package, Supermarket Opposition

This morning, Bronx Boro Prez Ruben Diaz, Jr. and Stuart Applebaum, the head of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, held a press conference on Kingsbridge Road, in front of the Kingsbridge Armory, to show solidarity in their opposition to a big-box supermarket at the Armory and also to promote the merits of the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) they sent to the Related Companies (the Armory's developer) last week.

Also showing their support were Assemblyman Jose Rivera, Councilwoman Maria Baez (suddenly, she's everywhere these days), Ozzie Brown of Community Board 7 and some members of the Kingsbridge Armory Redevlopment Alliance (KARA).

Diaz is withholding his recommendation for the Armory in hopes that he can leverage his support to gain more concessions from Related as the project goes back to the City Planning Commission for review on Sept. 9.

Just to clarify, Diaz is being considered non-compliant for not making a recommendation by the land review process' built-in Tuesday, August 25 deadline. But Diaz says the planning commission will still take his advice into account when they meet on Sept. 9. (Previously, we had reported that the city gave him an extension to make his decision. Technically, they didn't give him an extension. But practically, they did. Hope that clears things up.)

We also learned a few more details about what's included in the draft CBA sent to Related. One, as we reported last week, there is indeed a living wage "policy" included. Applebaum talked about a "living wage" of $10 an hour still only adds up $21,000 for a year. “Related is saying that $21,000 is too much to give workers in the Bronx, and I don’t accept that,” he said.

Basically Applebaum's argument went something like this: low-wage jobs, which is what the Armory mall plan appears to be providign, don’t make things better, they just keep people in poverty. He said the CBA wouldn’t “hinder Related’s ability to make a profit” and urged Related to accept it.

Related has said it will walk away before including living wage language in a CBA. We'll see if they budge on this.

Diaz is also asking for 60,000 square feet of community space, more than double the 27,000 square feet Related has included in its plan.

According to a press release sent out by Diaz's office, the CBA includes the outlines for these benefits: "living wage policy, first source and local hiring, various economic development initiatives, labor peace and the ability of employees at the retail development to unionize, community access to space at the Kingsbridge Armory and the development of a community facility as part of the project, the maintenance of local parks, green initiatives, and area traffic improvements."

Everyone there reitterated their opposition to having a new supermarket at the Armory, something several members of Board 7 said they would like to see. “Nothing [a supermarket] should be built here at the expense of all these merchants,” Rivera said, pointing at the stores across the street. “We’re not going to tolerate a big-box store.”

Diaz sent the draft CBA to Related last Monday. We don't know if they've been in contact over the phone, but it's pretty clear that they havent' discussed anything face to face. It's also now clear, given this press conference, that Diaz and the other Bronx stakeholders are trying to put some pressure on Related publicly.

“We have laid out a strong community benefits agreement, and we want to work with the Related Companies to make this project a reality. I look forward to sitting down with the developer in the coming days to discuss this document and the principles contained within it,” Diaz said. “Developers who do business in The Bronx must be mindful of the desires of the community, and we hope that Related will take that advice to heart.”

--James Fergusson did all the reporting for this post.


  1. Where in the heck did Maria come from and Jose Rivera, give us all a break! Showing up a couple of weeks before September 15 is an offense to the people of District 14. Maria is a disgraced to the community and she needs to be out.

    Jose Rivera, thank god is out and need the rest of the Rivera team out.

  2. You guys keep this old man Jose Rivera alive, everytime by mentioning his name. He must be laughing at you people. Why are you people so afraid of this old man. Me I am voting for Yudelka she exposed your candidate as a fraud and Republican who just moved here 10 months ago. Go Yudelka Go....

  3. Does Maria Baez think that the resident of the 14 council district are dumb or what? I am looking so forward to Fernando Cabrera becoming the next City Council member of District Council 14.

  4. You are so right they are not dumb. Go Yudelka Go. You are the true candidate. Not this LIAR and FRAUD Cabrera.

  5. Mr Fergusson you came to this great country of ours barely 3 years ago from the mother country of England. Question? Did you study journalism in England, because Sir Fergusson here in this great USA we teach our journalist that when a reporter covers a news event, they must report the news. When you made a comment about Maria Baez you stopped being objective and became bias. Are you a REPORTER or an EDITORIAL WRITER.

  6. We are in a free country! And no YUDELKA did not expose Cabrera. The facts were there and it was spoken of before her parading and intruding his children. Nothing illegal was done!

    So why didn't Yudelka get her matching funds? Answer that questions? She is an auditor? Ummm and wants to be my next city council that cannot get her finances correct. And her campaign manager leaves her..he saw the writing on the wall. He was only there for the money, he was the only person in her campaign getting paid, at least on the books. He realized he was in the losing team, so he left before she gave him the boot.

    Ahhhhhh I smell victory ... FERNANDO CABRERA OUR NEXT CITY COUNCIL.

  7. It would be nice if folks who have opinions about the politicians who showed up at this press conference on the Armory tie in their comments to the news contained within this post. Lost within your posts posturing about candidates in the 14th City Council district race is the importance of Bronx electeds standing united behind key aspects of the Armory's development: living wages, new stores that don't compete with estabished local businesses, significant community space within the Armory.

    I think it's great that people are fired up about the 14th Council District primary, but your posts do not contribute to voters making informed decisions because they don't state positions of candidates on these issues. What guidelines have Cabrera or Yudelka called for within the Armory development? What are their positions on allowing workers to organize and join unions? If you want to convince voters of the 14th district, sharing these positions of candidates you support would be much more persuasive than the current dialogue.

    Finally, I take offense at the anonymous poster who questioned James Fergusson's journalistic integrity because he noted Maria Baez was present for this press conference. She may have been absent in the Armory development debate until now (which James noted), but she was there at the press conference. I think the voters are discerning enough to recognize the difference between easy publicity and working to develop an agreement that benefits constituents and the community. James' British background has nothing to do with his reporting. He is an asset to the Bronx community and has done more for the Bronx in a few years as a journalist than many life long residents of our borough. I wouldn't mind seeing folks create a profile and stand behind their comments either.

  8. Nick, I agree with you on some points:
    1-as you can see, i have no problem using my name and if people wants to be counted, in my opinion, people should use theirs.
    2- YES, this news is an important development. asking for a living wage and double the space-shows me-that mr diaz is willing to forge with the community-although Cabrera campaign manager and CB7 Chairman Greg faulkner almost killed the proposal for Diaz by ordering a "alternative supermarket" and NO living wage
    But also Nick, I disagree with your version of the "objective reporting" in this race.UNLESS YOU TELL ME, as most are finding out, that Cabrera is being covered MORE because there are MORE questions than answers in his campaign. The daily News said, even yesterday, that many questions have not yet been answered in his campaign---this alone questions the lack of real community reporting.

    But in our own funny Bronx world...All praise goes to "Hitman Desio". haven't you heard? Diaz gets the camera, sings nice--then orders The hitman to do his dirty work. the Bronx gremlins say The Hitman saw Related 2 weeks ago....I hope everyone is ok.....MEET THE HITMAN AT..............

  9. Leave it to the unions to try to muck up the situation. Finally, after over two decades of discussion, there is a developer ready and willing to take on the expense and magnitude of such a project, and this union guy - whose livelihood depends on having dues-paying union members - makes ridiculous demands.

    Just get this project going, and see how it improves conditions for all merchants and residents.

  10. Yudelka Tapia has an entire section of her website devoted to her platform for the Kingsbridge Armory.

    Check her website out: www.yudelkatapia.com

    Information is power.

  11. Yes information is power. And with all the information out there on Cabrera. (Which is all documented by Westchester County.) Why is it that Mr. BP Diaz and Bronx Democrat County Committee have not retracted their support for Cabrera. Since they profess REFORM. They owe the community of the 14th CD an apology. Remaining silent is a betrayal to the people of the Bronx. NO RETRACTION MEANS they need to stop professing REFORM. Silents means that they are LAIRS AND FRAUDS just like Cabrera.

  12. Or maybe it's because you are the liars and are trying so hard to get CABRERA out, because your candidate is losing. If you feel they are all liars and are frauds, maybe it's time for you to move out.....along with ALL the people/community you claim are disappointed.

  13. Hey Mr Or Ms cant take the heat dont tell people that have lived here over 20 years to leave it is the new comer that should go. We need to fight for our community. You just cant seem to accept the fact that he is a Liar & Fraud. We live here, work here, raise our children here. We are the true people of the 14th CD. And NO our candidate is not losing.

  14. Oh that is really nice. People do not agree with you, so they should move. Some of us have been living here a long time. We have raised our children here. And because we know that He is a Liar (all documented)it is us that should move. WE can see that we have a bunch of young kids that have nothing else to do but bash GOOD HARD WORKING PEOPLE of this community. Grow up people learn to take it. He has done it to him self. cabrera lied to us. Shame on him, he is a pastor.


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