Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Kingsbridge Victory

For the past six years we have been working closely with the Northwest Bronx Concerned Community and Clergy Coalition on crafting a neighborhood friendly plan for the development of the Kingsbridge Armory. For a good part of this time NWBCCC was led by the indefatigable Mary Daily and she was succeeded by the very capable James Mumm. Now, finally, as the NY Daily News reports this morning, an RFP has been issued, and it looks like the community's voice has been heard.

As the News points out, "The request addressed many of the concerns cited by community stakeholders, such as the need for schools and the impact on existing neighborhood businesses." When did you ever hear a statement like that coming from an EDC RFP? The RFP goes on to say that "Negative economic effects will be mitigated by ensuring the developer's proposed tenants 'endeavor to not duplicate or directly compete with existing retail.'"

It has been made clear all along by all members of the community coalition that a food selling box store was simply unacceptable. Much of this sentiment emerged because of the community's respect for Morty Sloan and his MortonWilliams Associated Supermarket. The Sloan's store was the first real supermarket built in the Bronx and Morty hires all of the employees for his other markets (many of which are in Manhattan) from this Kingsbridge neighborhood.

This is a pathbreaking event in the city's development history but we would caution everyone who has a stake in the development to not take any long vacations, confident that the potential problems surrounding the Armory have all disappeared. The key word in the above quote is "endeavor."

It is now up to all of us who have worked to protect the existing retail base to remain vigilant so that "endeavor" has the appropriate teeth. One developer has already pitched the Task Force but all bids will have to be reviewed by EDC and than go through the ULURP process.