Retail center for Armory

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The NYC Economic Development Corporation announced the selection of Related Companies to redevelop the landmark Kingsbridge Armory into a retail destination center for the Bronx.

Hoping to use the project as a model of adaptive reuse of the borough’s historic buildings, Jeff T. Blau, president of Related Companies commented on April 21, “We look forward to working with all stakeholders to create “The Shops at the Armory” – a world-class retail, entertainment and community destination for visitors throughout the city.”

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.

“It is truly a pleasure to know that after years of diligent work, we will finally be able to see the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory,” Councilmember Maria Baez said.

Prior to the Related announcement, other plans, including the inclusion of a sports complex and several smaller schools, fell through, making way for the latest commercial venture. 

The 575,000-square-foot facility is expected to include up to 35 retail stores, an anchor department store and a rooftop open space.  A landscaped public plaza at the intersection of W. Kingsbridge Road and Reservoir Avenue will serve as additional public space for the community.

“The Kingsbridge Armory project is a great example of the importance of public and private partnership in building a stronger Bronx and a stronger city,” Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr. said.

Designed by the architecture firm Pilcher and Tachau, Related intends to largely incorporate the Armory’s outstanding military design of Romanesque arches, vaulted ceilings, and large battlement towers into the project.

Assemblyman Jose Rivera said he’s very pleased to welcome such an accomplished company to the area.

“I am very happy that this important project for the Bronx is moving forward with a qualified developer,” he said. “We expect the redevelopment will result in many quality jobs for local residents and bring new life to our neighborho­od.”

The project is expected to generate approximately 1,800 construction jobs and 2,000 permanent jobs.

“Having all of these opportunities here will lift the economic status of the Bronx,” Community Board 7 district manager Fernando Tirado said. “We are looking forward for the actual work to begin.”

Built between 1912 and 1917, the facility, known as the world’s largest armory, housed the National Guard and featured a huge indoor military drill space. When the Guard’s 258th Field Artillery vacated the space in 1994, the 50,000-square-foot annex behind the building continued to host drill practice and vehicle repair. 

However, in 1994, a leaky roof and general disrepair made the facility unusable and the state ceded title to the armory to the city in 1996. The main building has been unused since about 2000, although most recently, movie studios shot scenes for the hit Will Smith film, I am Legend, at the site.  

Utilizing low-impact development techniques and green building technology, Related must obtain a number of approvals in connection with its design, including those required by NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission and the NYS Historic Preservation Office.

And while residents are happy with the good news, local leaders want more than just retail space.  Baez said she would soon advocate for continued local growth in the form of more neighborhood schools.

Ronn Jordan, president of Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition agreed, “Now we will continue to work to have badly-needed schools built on the parcel adjacent to the Armory.”

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