Monday, July 27, 2009

Baez to the Breach

The Bronx BP's hearing on the Kingsbridge Armory will be held to night at Lehman College, and the borough's council delegation, led by Maria Baez, has sent BP Diaz and the city a clear message: no supermarket in the development. As the NY Daily News reports: "Last Friday, all eight members of the City Council's Bronx delegation asked Mayor Bloomberg in a letter to reject the developer's supermarket proposal...With 45 markets already within a 2-mile radius of the armory, the council delegation argued the proposed 60,000-square-foot market would drive at least some of them out of business."

And Baez, in a press release, said: "As the Council Member representing the 14th Council District, I am strongly opposed to the inclusion of a supermarket/big box food use store in the Kingsbridge Armory development project. In these economic times of change and uncertainty, it is imperative that we take every measure necessary to insure that small businesses in our community are able to survive."

The issue of a living wage in the retail development-along with a strong and binding Community Benefits Agreement-will also be brought front and center by KARA-the coalition of local community organizations: "Related also faces opposition from a coalition of northwest Bronx community members, who last week asked Diaz to vote against the plan until the developer agrees to an enforceable Community Benefits Agreement. The coalition is, among other things, demanding that a living wage of $10 an hour be paid to workers when the project is finished, and for the developer to provide community space and affordable recreation for neighborhood youth."

All of which will make for a lively and contentious debate tonight-and throughout the rest of the land use review process. It is expected that the city council will get the Armory application in October; and with the delegation letter-along with the expected 10,000+ signatures opposing the supermarket/box store use-we believe that there's an excellent opportunity for Baez and the local businesses to prevail on behalf of the community. The other wider community demands present an even bigger challenge, but KARA is well organized and has strong labor and political support to see that a binding CBA is negotiated. It will be an interesting few months.