Friday, August 28, 2009

More Armory Wages of Sin

The question that some of the opponents of the redvelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory have is; Can the unbridled greed and naked political power of the Related Companies be thwarted in the interests of what's best for the local community and the city as a whole? Up until now, Related has been able to really do anything it wants-and get from Mike Bloomberg everything that it has asked for; from the redevelopment of Bradhurst Avenue, to the two Gateway Mall projects, nothing has stood in the company's way. Perhaps, until now.

You see a coalition of business, labor and community is growing that would restrict the unilateral scope of the real estate giant's reach-and if Related balks on a CBA it could, as we have said before, lead to the scuttling of the entire enterprise. As the Bronx News Network reports:

"This morning, Bronx Boro Prez Ruben Diaz, Jr. and Stuart Applebaum, the head of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, held a press conference on Kingsbridge Road, in front of the Kingsbridge Armory, to show solidarity in their opposition to a big-box supermarket at the Armory and also to promote the merits of the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) they sent to the Related Companies (the Armory's developer) last week.Also showing their support were Assemblyman Jose Rivera, Councilwoman Maria Baez (suddenly, she's everywhere these days), Ozzie Brown of Community Board 7 and some members of the Kingsbridge Armory Redevlopment Alliance (KARA)."

Quite an array of political bedfellows. It seems that Related has the uncanny ability to unite all factions in the borough; and if all of these folks stay together on the supermarket and living wage question than Related will have to decide if it makes business sense to develop the Armory-because if unanimity reigns here, than the city council will be hard pressed to over ride the wishes of the entire borough. It's not as if developing the Armory is like the continuation of some vital city service-something that demands ignoring the wishes of the entire borough's political establishment.

The challenge here for all of those standing in the way of Related's unfettered development desires, is to come to an agreement that all of the players can stand behind. We don't think that point has been reached, but we're sanguine that agreement can eventually be achieved since the goals of the coalition are solid.

As BNN tells us: "We also learned a few more details about what's included in the draft CBA sent to Related. One, as we reported last week, there is indeed a living wage "policy" included. Applebaum talked about a "living wage" of $10 an hour still only adds up $21,000 for a year. “Related is saying that $21,000 is too much to give workers in the Bronx, and I don’t accept that,” he said."

And with Bronx unemployment at a record 12.5%, the borough needs to have the kind of employment that rises above the minimum-something that chains stores are capable of doing if they want to do business in the community. If Related balks, our suggestion is to de-designated the company; and figure out anew how to develop the Armory in a way that treats the neighborhood with respect, and provides meaningful economic development for the borough's struggling work force.