Kingsbridge Vote About Traffic, Jobs?
December 14th, 2009
After weeks of debate, the council voted against the proposal, which would have turned the Kingsbridge Armory into a large shopping mall, by a vote of 45 to 1, with one abstention. The project was effectively toppled by a disagreement between the community, the administration and the developer over whether to require the mall’s retailers to pay a living wage, which the community defined as $10 an hour. Today the City Council, led by its Bronx delegation, sided with the community.
For months the subject of a living wage monopolized the discussion over the Kingsbridge Armory. But any living wage settlement would have likely been agreed to in a community benefits agreement, which is not subject to City Council approval. Therefore at its meeting today, council members cited other areas of the developer’s land use application that did fall within their purview, like traffic, as a reason why the proposal was rejected.
“We have been very clear that there were a number of issues, many have been traffic and environmental, germane to the land use process, some separate from the land use process, which often happens in land use negotiations,” said Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
“Obviously none of them were resolved,” said Quinn.
Today was the final day for the council to act on the project. The council has 50 days after a project is approved by the City Planning Commission to either reject or accept it. The armory rejection will now go to the mayor, who is expected to veto it. Quinn said there were enough votes in the City Council to override a mayoral veto.
The project, according to the administration, would have brought thousands of temporary and permanent jobs to the area.
The mayor, who is at the United Nations’ climate change conference in Copenhagen, issued the following response after the council’s vote:
By Courtney Gross on December 14, 2009, 3:06 pm
“Today’s vote against the Kingsbridge Armory redevelopment project means the loss of a rare opportunity to bring thousands of jobs and more than $300 million in private investment to The Bronx. Given that the national recession continues to weigh on the entire City and keep unemployment high – particularly in The Bronx – the outcome and timing couldn’t be worse.
“The community-led planning process for the project began more than three years ago, when we formed a Task Force made up of the two area community boards, local civic groups, and elected officials. This Task Force ensured local community interests were incorporated into the process, and the result was a plan to transform the vacant armory into a new shopping destination, with dedicated community space, major workforce development initiatives, 1,200 permanent jobs and 1,000 construction jobs. It would have relieved the City of millions of dollars in operating, security and capital expenses to maintain the empty facility. Instead, the Task Force, the local community board, area civic groups and, most of all, people in the Bronx who need jobs were ignored, and an unfortunate signal has been sent that the Bronx is not open for business.
“From early in the planning process, we made clear we would never add mandatory wage requirements which would make the project unviable, and that was a line we were never going to cross. It’s not the role of the public sector. As a result of today’s vote, we can say one thing for sure: there will be no wages paid at all at the Kingsbridge Armory for the foreseeable future. It’s a disappointing and irrational outcome, but New Yorkers can rest assured our Administration will not waver in our efforts to encourage private sector investment and job creation in The Bronx and throughout New York City.”
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