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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Editorial: The Armory Vote a Year Later

Editor's note: the following editorial is from the most recent edition of the Norwood News, which is out and online now.

It’s the one-year anniversary of the nearly unanimous City Council vote that scuttled the mayor’s juggernaut to stuff a cookie-cutter mall inside the landmark Kingsbridge Armory.

In that time, the city’s two tabloids, the New York Post and the Daily News, have taken every opportunity to whack at Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. for his opposition to the project, which gave the necessary juice to a community and labor-backed effort to defeat it in the City Council.

Regular readers know where we stand on this, but as long as the editorial boards of the city dailies continue to harp on this, we are compelled to reiterate our position.

For more than a decade, community organizations led by the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition hammered out plans for a remake of the facility that made room for recreation, community programming, small businesses, a movie theater, etc.

Related, the city’s chosen developer, never offered details on what it was going to provide except for retail. Despite this and the clear sense that the Armory would be a mall pure and simple, the community’s only firm request in the end was that people had to be paid a living wage, particularly when the developer was going to receive over $70 million in taxpayer subsidies to remake a public landmark.

It was hardly an outlandish request. Several other municipalities have enacted wage guarantees on development projects benefiting from taxpayer subsidies.

It hasn’t been required in New York City, but, thanks to the Armory battle, living wage requirements are now an issue with wings as legislation is being considered in the City Council. (It won’t pass this year, but it will be back on the docket and a priority in 2011, says Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera.) That’s why all the Manhattan-based big-shots are so mad at Diaz. He picked a big, risky fight and he’s winning.

We might have a little more patience for the tabloid tirades if they ever really gave a whit about the Bronx when it mattered. Where were they when the Yankees took subsidies and local parkland for their stadium, delaying some local replacement parks as much as three years? They were cheerleading the project along.

What have they said about the scandal-plagued water filtration plant that ripped a stadium-sized hole in a local park, costing water rate payers $2 billion more than the original billion-dollar price tag? Right, nothing.

Yes, jobs are critical, but what’s even more critical is laying a foundation of fairness that has long eluded the borough. That includes jobs that pay decent wages and a real role in determining what is done with our precious public property.

Whatever the tabloids say, Diaz helped lay the cornerstone for that foundation, and we applaud him for it.


  1. Where did the 70 million dollar figure come from? Everything I've read is $18 million.

  2. Let's keep it real. The fact is that there are NO jobs coming out of the Armory NOW, when we need it the most. Second, how come there are other projects in the Bronx being developed and supported by Bronx Borough President Diaz Jr., but yet there is a hold in this project at the Armory? Third, There are NO other developers interested in developing the armory. Fourth, the Coalition was only interested in supporting Morton Williams, a horrible supermarket. Fifth, most unions now WANT the Armory to be developed and regret ever being part of KARA with the Coalition. Sixth, where are the jobs? Seventh, I am tired of all of the special interest groups who don't even live in the neighborhood kill projects that will get us jobs.

  3. Whatever happened to Plan B, C, D,...Z???? I guess the battle was won but at what cost?

  4. Didn't the community choose the Related proposal/bid over others? How was it the "city's chosen developer?"

  5. Why don't these anonymous posters grow a set and give themselves a handle. You're all cowards and I can't and won't even consider what you say unless I can pin your ideals to an actual identity.

    It's probably all the same people trying to turn this into something bigger than it is. I have not met any real Bronxites who think the Related deal was good. Only these anonymous posters and some Manhattan based economic whores.

  6. The Borough President and special interest groups chose no Jobs. The borough president just want to save face now.

  7. "You're entitles to your opinion, but not your own facts."

    -Patrick Moynihan

    10th grade level hack work papering over a horrific outcome with emotional ideological jingoism

    I can't believe someone got paid to write this sentence:

    "That’s why all the Manhattan-based big-shots are so mad at Diaz."

  8. Spin, spin, spin...anonymous or not(like you are really using your real name, yeah right), the FACT is that there are no new jobs, no new plan, and that you can't argue. Your name calling comes is so infantile and weak. Show me the job!!!!

  9. To Anonymous at 3:36pm -

    You are confusing the $17.8 million tax break approved by the New York City Industrial Development Agency with the entire package of breaks Related was due to get. The editors at BxNN are correctly adding on the many other tax-payer funded subsidies this project was due to get. In fact, BxNN may be under-estimating if you add on things like the below market price Related was to pay. Sam Dolnick at the NYTs (boy do I miss his reporting on the Bronx! When is the NY Times going to fill his former position?) broke down some of the other subsidies in an October 19, 2009 article:

    "Related has been offered extensive subsidies and tax incentives for the project, which include more than $40 million in federal and state historic tax credits. The city also spent $30 million to replace the roof. Under the terms of the proposed deal, Related will pay $5 million for the property."


    $70 million of taxpayer money to get a mall with something called a World Peace Atrium (the only "community benefit" Related ever agreed to as far as I know) sure looks like a bad return on our tax dollar investment.

  10. Just coming out of the Christmas preparation weeds here. I must say that I do think the $70 mil is a bit over stated. The $40 mil would be available to anyone who redevelops the Armory because it is a historic landmark. It's the same with the $30 mil for the roof; the roof wasn't done for Related. And you won't find anyone to pay the fully appraised price for the Armory. It's going to cost A LOT of money to redo the building because of it's landmark status.

    I just think it's really important to keep in perspective what Related specifically was getting from the city, state, and federal governments.

    No matter what goes in the Armory (if anything ever actually does function there), it will take many incentives to lure private investment money to such a unique and potentially expensive renovation.

    When it comes down to it, the subsidies serve a Keynesian role of stimulating the economy. You need to spend money to make money. I never knew KARA and NWBCCC were such deficit hawks!

  11. I don't think KARA NWBCCC understood the complexity of the project, building inside of an armory. It is the worse case scenerio in terms of development. This is exactly why the Borough President has NOT been been able to come up with potential developer to do the armory. We have gone through an entire year and he is yet to come up with someone who is able to come up with a plan, resources and will to do it. The BP is now in a terrible political jam.


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