New York University's Wagner School of Public Policy will be the latest organization to take a crack at the development conundrum that is the long-vacant Kingsbridge Armory.
Since 1995, Wagner has tackled hundreds of public policy issues facing the city as part of its Capstone program, which puts graduate students and faculty members into teams that spend the year working for a client, analyzing an important issue they face and then providing them with a detailed report that includes recommendations.
This year, one of those teams will have the Armory task force assembled by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. as its client and the redevelopment of the massive, 600,000 square-foot castle on Kingsbridge Road as its project. In a press release, Diaz called the program "highly competitive" and "highly selective."
John DeSio, a spokesman for Diaz, said this is great news for development prospects at the Armory, which is controlled by the city and has been vacant for more than 15 years. Last year, the City Council (with the strong support and leadership of Diaz) killed a proposal to turn the Armory into a shopping mall because the project didn't include guarantees for living wage jobs. Afterward, Mayor Bloomberg (who supported the mall project), said the Armory would remain vacant for the foreseeable future.
"Things, they come through this program, they happen," DeSio said in a phone interview.
Because of this, however, DeSio said, the task force is pushing its time line for coming up with a viable plan for the Armory from the end of this year to April or May of 2011.
"We think this [program] is worth it," DeSio said.
Last year, Wagner students took on a handful of urban policy issues. For example, they worked for the Brooklyn Borough President's Office and developed a plan to turn a 6.2-mile stretch of 4th Avenue into a "community asset."
We'll look into some of the program's success stories, but for now, here's the rest of the press release Diaz's office just sent out:
In an open letter to the public, the Kingsbridge Armory Task Force has announced that New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service has selected the Kingsbridge Armory for study through its highly competitive Capstone Program.
Under NYU’s Capstone Program, a team of faculty and students from the university will identify alternative uses for the armory through a year-long planning study that will advise the Kingsbridge Armory Task Force. The project will include research, design, and analysis of a sustainable and socially-beneficial model for the reuse of the Kingsbridge Armory.
“The NYU Capstone Program is a highly selective, highly competitive program, and we are thrilled that they have chosen to focus their efforts on the redevelopment and reuse of the Kingsbridge Armory this year. Working together with NYU, it is our hope that this study will not only identify new uses for the Kingsbridge Armory, but will lead to the creation of a new RFP for this historic structure,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
“The task force has taken on the challenge of identifying how the Bronx can attract the jobs of the future and prepare its residents to fill them. This is not simply about reuse of a public building. It is about how this building might contribute to a larger community and borough agenda for economic growth,” said Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO of the Partnership for New York City.
“We are bringing in highly skilled individuals to ensure that the Kingsbridge Armory will be transformed into a space that benefits our borough without downsides. The NYU’s Capstone Program will offer us the vision of young and talented professionals, and we are ready to work with them to find the best plan for the Kingsbridge Armory,” said Marlene Cintron, President of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (BOEDC).
“I welcome the news that the NYU Capstone Program will participate in the process of redeveloping the Kingsbridge Armory, and I am confident that the seeds for a wonderful new community resource within the walls of this historic structure will be planted,” said City Council Member Fernando Cabrera.
The Kingsbridge Armory Task Force consists of Borough President Diaz, Council Member Cabrera, Ms. Cintron, Ms. Wylde, Majora Carter, environmental consultant; Paul Foster, chairman of Bronx Community Board #7; Jack Kittle, political director of District Council 9; Steven McInnis, political director for the New York City District Council of Carpenters; Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter, a board member of the Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition; Ned Regan, former state comptroller; Jack Rosen, Chief Executive of Rosen Partners LLC; and Steven M. Safyer, MD, President and CEO of Montefiore Medical Center.