Friday, December 11, 2009


As of this afternoon, it looks as if the Kingsbridge Armory negotiations have reached an impasse-with some legal issues emerging that would preclude the creation of a separate city sponsored worker fund. Our sources tell us, that the city's response to the council's list of demands was inadequate and that the members of the Bronx delegation are waiting for a more responsive comeback from the administration. If that isn't forthcoming, however, it is still within the realm of possibility that the application could be turned down on Monday at the council.

Meanwhile, the community coalition is expressing unhappiness over the refusal of the Bloombergistas to move on the living wage question. As Bronx News Network reports: "All Bloomberg is offering is a 'Bah Humbug' and a lump of coal," said KARA's Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter after meeting with members of the Bronx City Council delegation. "This is a bad deal for the Bronx and all New Yorkers and we are calling on the Council to vote it down. The so-called living wage fund that the Administration is proposing is nothing but a subsidized poverty fund. It doesn't mandate employers to pay living wages.Low wage workers are already on food stamps, Medicaid, and Section 8. We don't need to subsidize poverty we need a mandatory living wage paid by employers!"

Apparently, Bronx BP Ruben Diaz feels the same way-as the Politicker is reporting: ""From the first day I got involved in the issue of the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory, I made it crystal clear that I would not support this project unless it included a guarantee that the employees at the future retail center would be paid a living wage. Though the wage supplement provisions that the Bloomberg administration has put forward represent a major step forward compared to our negotiations six months ago, there is no guarantee. With that said, I will continue to oppose this project, and I urge the members of the City Council to do the same," said Diaz."

With the clock ticking it doesn't appear that there is any substantive-face-to-face-negotiations going on. But then again, the council is awaiting something sweeter from the other side of city hall. And while the community coalition has gotten further on this issue than any other advocacy group, it appears that there's a limit to the precedent that the mayor is willing to accept.

As BNN points out: "This appears to be the furthest the city and Related is willing to go at this at this point. It's also the best wage deal ever offered for a city-subsidized project. (But that's not saying much, given the Bloomberg administration's strong aversion to setting any kind of wage or benefits requirements on development deals.)"

Will the speaker, who heretofore has allowed the Bronx delegation to take the lead, now become more active in trying to resolve the impasse? We believe that this is certainly a possibility-although she remains coy about her position: "Meanwhile, Council Speaker Christine Quinn refuses to publicly take a side on the Armory issue. Yesterday, when I asked for her stance, she declined to say (like a steamroller running over an ant) whether she supported living wage job guarantees at city-subsidized projects like the Armory."

So it remains for someone to come up with a proposal that will break the logjam-or for sheer political power to replace sweet reason to effect a resolution. Otherwise, defeat may be on the horizon: "We'll find out in the next few days if the Bronx delegation takes the offer and moves the project forward or is willing to vote down the project without a more substantial guarantee of living wage."

Somehow we believe that some compromise will be negotiated. But it's getting to the point where the maneuvering room is getting narrower by the minute. And while the living wage proposal may be unprecedented, the complications over the negotiations of this development have been as arduous as we have ever seen-and, yes, to some extent unprecedented as well.


NY1 is also reporting on the stalemate-but the station's observation that if the council wants to vote no, it must vote Monday or the project will automatically be approved is not true. The council, once it has taken up a land use item, must take an affirmative action; which means it must vote, either up or down, on Monday.