Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Kingsbridge Armory stakeholders have drafted a community benefits agreement and delivered it to The Related Companies. Diaz Jr. expects to enter negotiations with Related shortly.
The developer, set to build a shopping mall at the 575,000 square foot landmark, has promised to sign a benefits agreement. It has also promised to reserve 28,000 square feet for the community. Community Board 7 voted to approve the shopping mall in July.
Exactly how much square footage is up for negotiation, as are other proposed community benefits. The Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance, steered by the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, has pushed for a living wage proviso. KARA wants Related to guarantee retail workers at the Kingsbridge Armory shopping mall $10 an hour plus benefits.
Diaz Jr. won’t discuss the details of the benefits agreement delivered to Related, a press release read. But a stakeholder close to the negotiations confirmed that the draft includes living wage and labor neutrality provisos.
CB7 requested that Related establish a supermarket at the shopping mall, perhaps a Whole Foods or a BJ’s Wholesale. But KARA and existing supermarket owners, in particular the owners of Morton Williams Supermarket, objected. Morton Williams is a union shop that employs hundreds of Bronx residents. The establishment of a new supermarket at the Kingsbridge Armory would shutter Morton Williams and result in layoffs, its owners argued.
The benefits agreement delivered to Related doesn’t prevent the establishment of a supermarket at the shopping mall, Diaz Jr. said. The benefits agreement proposes close to 60,000 square feet of additional community space, the anonymous stakeholder said.
A KARA advocate confirmed that living wage and the right to organize are part of the benefits agreement draft. The construction of two schools at the Kingsbridge Armory annex are not part of the benefits agreement and will be negotiated with the city, the advocate said.
Diaz Jr. has until Thursday, August 27 to submit a recommendation. Then the shopping mall plan heads to the City Planning Commission and the City Council.