Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Councilman Fernando Cabrera have spent the last 15 months co-chairing a task force on the future of the Kingsbridge Armory, and are now ready to reveal the results.
The Kingsbridge Armory Task Force released its final report on possible uses for the Armory on Tuesday, June 21 and proposals range from a velodrome for BMX bikers to a mega church run by Atlanta-based televangelist Creflo Dollar.
The wide-range of possible uses outlined in the 267-page document are intended to show that there is a high and diverse demand for the nearly century-old building. The task force did not advocate for any particular project. It did officially recommend that the Bloomberg Administration issue a new “request for proposals” for the armory, to begin soliciting bids and serious proposals for its use.
The sheer size of the Armory, occupying nearly five acres and nine stories high, makes it a versatile building. It has been vacant for over 15 years.
Other possible uses mentioned in the report include an enormous arts and crafts market and a minor-league hockey arena.
“The work of the Task Force shows just how much interest there is in this historic structure. This report proves that we can put together a proposal that not only brings development to the site, but does so in a complementary manner that takes into account the needs of the surrounding community and the Bronx as a whole,” Diaz said in a statement.
The city issued an RFP for the site in 2006, and reached an agreement with a developer for a shopping mall. Diaz vigorously opposed the plan. One of his first acts after taking over as borough president in 2009 was to defeat the proposal by pushing “living-wage” legislation which would have required employers at the Armory to pay staff several dollars per hour over the minimum wage.
Diaz announced the formation of the task for at his first State of the Borough Speech in 2010. He has also tried to make “living-wage” a city-wide issue, which is opposed by the mayor.
Despite his quarrels with Mayor Bloomberg, the borough president expressed optimism about City Hall’s cooperation on the Armory.
“Mayor Bloomberg has stated that he is open to every good idea for the Kingsbridge Armory…I am ready to work together with the Bloomberg Administration to develop and issue a new RFP for the Kingsbridge Armory, and I hope that they will join us in working for the positive redevelopment of the armory,” Diaz’s statement said.
Aside from Diaz and Cabrera, the task force was made up of 11 business leaders, community leaders and elected officials, the majority of whom were Bronx-based. Cabrera called the report an “important initial step,” in developing the Armory.
The Bloomberg administration has not yet issued an official response to the task force’s report.