Tuesday, September 08, 2009

News on Diaz and the Armory

The NY Daily News has weighed in on the opposition to the Kingsbridge Armory project by Bronx BP Ruben Diaz: "In a stark break with his predecessor, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz has refused to back a project pushed by a politically connected developer. Diaz raised eyebrows Friday when he recommended rejection of the redevelopment plan from The Related Cos. for the iconic Armory building."

The News story reiterates what we had posted last week-and goes on the lay out the BP's case against the current configuration of the development: "Chief among Diaz's reasons was Related's failure to sign an ambitious community benefits agreement Diaz worked out with local stakeholders. Diaz said he was hopeful the developer "will continue negotiations with my office and the community stakeholders to craft a strong community benefits agreement that allows both the developer and our neighbors to prosper from this project." The most contentious item in the draft CBA is an unprecedented demand that Related require all retail tenants to pay a "living wage" - a demand Related has said would not only kill any deal on a CBA, but could even scuttle the whole project."

Which leads us directly into the City Planning Commission's first hearing that is scheduled for tomorrow. All of the opposition will be down at City Hall at 9:00 AM for a presser that will feature the local store owners, KARA, and Stuart Appelbaum of the RWDSU. And, while no one thinks that the CPC will do anything but act in its usual rubber stamp capacity, the presser's focus is on the city council-where the project's ultimate fate really rests.

The News lays out the projected ULURP schedule: "The project is now before the City Planning Commission, which will hold a public hearing at its Manhattan office tomorrow and vote on it next month. If the commission approves it, the City Council then has 50 days to approve or reject the plan. The Bronx Council delegation is united against the plan without a robust CBA and protections for local businesses, but will need Council allies to block it."

So, it's into the valley of the shadow of death for the mallers and their opponents. It should be a fascinating denouement in the works.