Groups allied with the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance feel that they are about to be “mauled” by a plan to turn the huge Kingsbridge Armory space into a state-of-the-art shopping center.
Before a public hearing at the Bronx Library Center at 310 E. Kingsbridge Road on Thursday, October 1, Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance (KARA), a consortium of community groups, churches, and trade unions, meet outside of the library to voice their concerns.
Related Companies proposed plan to turn the Armory into a mall will cause excessive car and truck traffic, increase the rate of asthma, and force neighborhood businesses out by rising rents and increased competition from big box and chain stores, they said.
“We are not against Related’s proposed commercial center but we do have some serious concerns,” said Fr. Joseph Girone, pastor of St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church, on behalf of KARA. “The increased car and truck traffic will impact our already congested streets causing more accidents, more travel delays, and more asthma which is already at an epidemic level in our community.”
Related plans to invest approximately $310 million to acquire and redevelop the Armory, at 29 W. Kingsbridge Road, which follows the nearly $30 million the city already spent in capital funds for the building’s environmental cleanup, roof replacement and façade repairs.
Local activists nevertheless expressed concern that the situation could prove dire if landlords jacked up rents, and many also said that the jobs in the mall usually do not pay enough for people to make ends meet.
“I am here because I’m concerned that the Armory will only bring poverty wage, dead-end jobs,” said Marvin Almengor, of the Fordham Manor Church, also a member of KARA. “The cost-of-living had gone up but wages have not kept pace. If rents go up even more due to gentrification, there is a high likelihood that residents in the neighborhood could be displaced.”
KARA maintains that the scope of Related’s study of the surrounding area is severely limited, and that the development firm should go ahead with a much broader study.
“Related is proposing to limit the area of their study to a five-block radius around the building, when the impacts will clearly be felt in the entire area,” read a statement from KARA. “They are also trying to get away with a superficial look at the impact of the project on residential rents.”
A spokesman from Related said that such concerns will be addressed, and that the company is doing its due diligence in investigating the impact of the Armory’s development.
“We are pleased that the environmental review process for the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory has now begun and we look forward to working with the local elected officials, Community Board 7, the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance and numerous other neighborhood stakeholders on issues ranging from traffic and transportation to much-needed community facilities,” said Jesse Masyr, the land use attorney representing Related on the development of the Kingsbridge Armory.
Masyr added that Related is committed to insuring that the redeveloped Kingsbridge Armory is a positive addition to the community and helps to support the continued renaissance of the Bronx.
©2008 Community News Group