Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has issued a negative recommendation to the City Planning Commission concerning the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory.
As part of the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP), Borough President Diaz is authorized to submit recommendations on development projects that come before the City for approval, such as the proposed development of a retail mall at the Kingsbridge Armory. In his submission to the City Planning Commission, the borough president stated that he cannot recommend the approval of the current application, which has been submitted by the developer, the Related Companies.
Among other reasons, which are outlined in the attached recommendations to the City Planning Commission, Borough President Diaz said he could not offer his approval to the project because the Kingsbridge Armory’s chosen developer, the Related Companies, has not yet agreed to the terms of a community benefits agreement.
“While I cannot offer my approval to this proposal at this time, I am hopeful that the developer will continue negotiations with my office and the community stakeholders to craft a strong community benefits agreement that allows both the developer and our neighbors to prosper from this project,” said Borough President Diaz.
Several weeks ago, Borough President Diaz’s office submitted a draft community benefits agreement to the developer in hopes of negotiating the terms of that document with the Related Companies in advance of the borough president’s submission to the City Planning Commission.
That document includes provisions concerning a 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.
The draft community benefits agreement also calls for a supermarket or big-box warehouse club to be excluded from the development. The Related Companies signed a similar community benefits agreement as part of their development of the Gateway Center Mall at the Bronx Terminal Market.
In his ULURP recommendations, Borough President Diaz outlined additional concerns he has regarding the development of the Kingsbridge Armory. They include the effects of the retail mall on neighborhood traffic, the failure to include educational facilities in or around the Kingsbridge Armory, and the lack of any study of the impact the mall could have on local businesses, particularly the Fordham Road business district and the River Plaza retail center in Marble Hill.