Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Related Delay

According to the Bronx News Network, the Bx. BP has been given an extension for his evaluation of the Kingsbridge Armory project-this could mean a potential thumbs down if Related's response is too tepid for Diaz's liking: "Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. has asked for and received an extension on his deadline to submit his recommendation to the city regarding the Kingsbridge Armory mall project, saying he wants to see how the developer responds to a proposed Community Benefits Agreement (CBA)."

The delay granted is until September, 8th-and we believe that the big hang up here is going to be on the living wage component of a community benefits agreement: "Earlier this week, Diaz’s office sent Related a draft of an agreement that would bring the community addition benefits from the project aside from new shopping options and low-paying retail jobs. The agreement was a collaborative effort between Diaz’s office, Community Board 7, the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance (KARA) and local elected officials."

The Related reply may tip the balance: “We do not want to say yes or no on the ULURP application until we have some idea from the developer regarding their direction on the CBA,” said Diaz spokesperson John DeSio, in a e-mail."

We can't see the developer acceding to the community's demands; and, if not, we believe that Related is willing to use its political muscle to attempt to override the BP on the key issue of a living wage: "Related has said it will walk away from the project before including living wage requirements. Related officials could not be reached by the time of this post, but we'll keep trying. The Riverdale Press reported that Related is still reviewing the CBA document."

Which is not to say that the supermarket isn't also nettlesome: "The CBA also included language excluding a big-box supermarket at the Armory. Related had carved out space in the Armory for a 60,000-square-foot supermarket and Board 7 members had voted to support a new supermarket with organic food options. But Morton Williams, a local supermarket chain, had lobbied hard against an Armory supermarket and had the support of the entire Bronx delegation to the City Council."

So stay tuned. It should be an interesting few weeks before the upcoming primary on September 15th. Still, Related isn't winning friends and influencing people-at least not in the Bronx. That being said, the developer's power alley lies elsewhere.