Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. allowed the deadline for his recommendation on the future of the Kingsbridge Armory to come and go. Determined to negotiate a community benefits agreement with The Related Companies and armory stakeholders, Diaz Jr. will submit a noncompliant recommendation.
The deadline was June 24. Diaz Jr. and armory stakeholders drafted a benefits agreement and delivered it to Related for review on Monday, August 17. When the borough president does submit a recommendation, the City Planning Commission will review it, noncompliant or not, Diaz Jr. said. Its noncompliant status is purely a legal matter and the CPC will afford it respect, borough president spokesman John DeSio said.
Diaz Jr. considers it necessary to speak with Related about the benefits agreement draft, and with armory stakeholders about Related’s response. The stakeholders include Community Board 7 and the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance, steered by the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition.
Logistics rendered the August 24 deadline undoable and led to a delay, Diaz Jr. said. The borough president asked the CPC for an extension until Tuesday, September 8. The CPC stated that it had no authority to grant an extension but pointed out that Diaz Jr. was free to submit a recommendation late. There is no deadline for a noncompliant recommendation.
CB 7 chair Greg Faulkner called the delay good news. The city should have launched public review of the armory plan in September rather than in May, he said. Negotiators on the development side and the community side have been out of town, DeSio explained. The borough president plans to meet with Related soon.
Related, set to build a shopping mall at the 575,000 sf landmark, has promised to sign a benefits agreement. It will set aside a portion of the armory for the community. KARA has pushed for a living wage provison; it wants Related to guarantee workers at the shopping mall $10 an hour plus benefits.
Diaz Jr. won’t discuss the details of the benefits agreement draft but a stakeholder confirmed that the draft includes living wage and labor neutrality provisos. The benefits agreement delivered to Related forbids the establishment of a supermarket at the shopping mall, Diaz Jr. said. It proposes some 60,000 sf of additional community space on top of the 28,000 square feet Related has promised, the stakeholder said. Related has stated that it’ll walk away from the armory rather than capitulate to a living wage proviso.