- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.Q6qPkwFC.dpuf Diaz and Bronx Council Delegation to Meet with Armory Developer Tomorrow; Council Hearing Set for Tuesday | Bronx News Networkbronx

Friday, November 13, 2009

Diaz and Bronx Council Delegation to Meet with Armory Developer Tomorrow; Council Hearing Set for Tuesday

Earlier today, with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. said he had a little insider tip for the Bronx News Network. Tomorrow, Diaz said, he and members of the Bronx Council delegation would be meeting with representatives from the Related Companies, the developer with plans to turn the massive and vacant Kingsbridge Armory into a shopping mall.

This is the second meeting in the last few weeks between Bronx elected officials and Related as they hammer out the details of a community benefits agreement -- a binding document that would outline other benefits Related would give back to the community in exchange for letting them set up shop in the Armory. In the benefits agreement, Diaz, community groups and unions are pushing for Related to require its mall tenants to pay their employees a living wage ($10, plus benefits). Related has said living wage requirements would be a deal-breaker. Both sides have hinted that there might be a compromise out there.

At the 52nd Precinct Council's annual breakfast this morning, Diaz spoke about many things, including the need for better jobs in the Bronx that pay a living wage. He said he was tired of the Bronx's high rates of unemployment and poverty. He wants development to happen in the Bronx, he said, but it needed to come with good jobs.

The news of tomorrow's meeting with Related is big for a couple of reasons. For one, it marks a 180-degree turnaround from where negotiatins were just a month ago, which was nowhere. It could also have an impact on what happens at the Council's hearing on the Armory project, which is set for sometime on Tuesday.

Diaz said he hasn't decided yet whether or not he will testify or what he would say if he did testify. At the City Planning Commission hearing in September, Diaz urged the commission's board members to reject Related's plan because the developer had not seriously worked at negotiating a community benefits agreement. The Commission approved the project, but it was an 8-4 vote, closer than most.

By Tuesday, depending on what Diaz does (or doesn't do) at the hearing, we should know how negotiations have progressed.

Diaz added that he's proud of the Bronx Council delegation, which he said is presenting a united front during negotiations with Related.

While most of the delegation has publicly expressed support for Diaz's benefits agreement efforts, Council member Maria Baez, who's district includes the Armory, is nowhere to be found and is said to be dealing with some serious health problems. There were rumors swirling that Baez was going to vote for the project, with or without a benefits agreement in place. But one of her top aides says she's always been supportive of a community benefits agreement and Diaz says he hasn't heard one way or the other.

Either way, this project is generating more discussion in the Council than any development in recent memory, according to Diaz and other Council members.

Stay tuned. This is getting interesting.


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