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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Committee Armory Vote Scheduled for Thursday

[Update, 2:26 p.m., according the City Council's online agenda for the Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee tomorrow morning, the four land use changes that Related and the EDC are applying for with regards to the Armory project are up for discussion (and a vote?). They are listed as agenda items 2 through 5. There have been rumors swirling that the vote will get pushed back until next Wednesday, but we haven't been able to confirm anything.]

Tomorrow, the City Council Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee as well as the Land Use Committee, are scheduled to vote on whether or not to recommend approval of the Kingsbridge Armory redevelopment to the City Council. The City Council is scheduled to vote on the development on Dec. 9.

Over the past weeks, the developer, Related Companies, and the Bronx City Council delegation have been at a standstill over the main issue of the shopping mall development: providing a living wage ($10 an hour plus benefits) for retail workers. If both factions refuse to back down, both the Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee and the City Council appear poised to reject Related’s proposal and start from scratch.

Related insists that including a living wage requirement will deter retail companies from setting up shop in the mall. They believe the community will benefit from the 2,200 jobs created during and after construction of the mall, regardless of wage level.

Meanwhile, the Bronx delegation, along with an apparent majority of the Zoning and Franchising Subcommittee, hold that guaranteeing living wage jobs is a small fee for Related to pay, since they stand to make a bundle off of the development. They say the jobs currently being offered at the proposed Armory mall would do nothing to lift a community mired in poverty.

Besides rejecting the proposal, the subcommittee could vote to modify the proposal and, in return, gain 15 days for the Bronx delegation to negotiate with Related. Last week, Bronx Councilman Joel Rivera, who sits on the Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee, said he would like to push the final City Council voting deadline from Dec. 9 to Dec. 21.

The Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance (KARA) fears that delaying the vote will only allow the Bloomberg administration, which is in favor of the development and against living wage guarantees, more time to influence Council members.

“[Related has] had well over two years to negotiate,” said KARA’s Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter. “They met with the Bronx delegation twice and they have left them empty handed."

Check back on the blog tomorrow for an update of how the subcommittee votes on the proposal.


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