Monday, November 16, 2009

Hearing Showdown Tomorrow

As the Bronx News Network reports, the Bronx BP Ruben Diaz and the entire borough council delegation is gearing up for a showdown on the Related Kingsbridge Armory plan. They have been meeting with the developer, and have yet to soften their demands for living wages and strong community benefits: "Earlier today, with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. said he had a little insider tip for the Bronx News Network. Tomorrow, Diaz said, he and members of the Bronx Council delegation would be meeting with representatives from the Related Companies, the developer with plans to turn the massive and vacant Kingsbridge Armory into a shopping mall."

The question of whether a compromise is in the offing has been raised, but both sides have yet to give: "Related would give back to the community in exchange for letting them set up shop in the Armory. In the benefits agreement, Diaz, community groups and unions are pushing for Related to require its mall tenants to pay their employees a living wage ($10, plus benefits). Related has said living wage requirements would be a deal-breaker. Both sides have hinted that there might be a compromise out there."

The fact that Related is even at the table is a tribute to the unanimity of the Bronx-and Speaker Quinn's support of the borough: "The news of tomorrow's meeting with Related is big for a couple of reasons. For one, it marks a 180-degree turnaround from where negotiations were just a month ago, which was nowhere. It could also have an impact on what happens at the Council's hearing on the Armory project, which is set for sometime on Tuesday."

And, as BNN suggests, the tenor of tomorrow's land use meeting-and the appearance, or not, of the BP-will provide a clue as to the state of the negotiations: "By Tuesday, depending on what Diaz does (or doesn't do) at the hearing, we should know how negotiations have progressed.Diaz added that he's proud of the Bronx Council delegation, which he said is presenting a united front during negotiations with Related."

But what is perfectly clear, is that this development is causing quite a stir-and the decision here could have far reaching implications for all developments that come up in the next four years. That we're at this point is, without a doubt, a tribute to the hard work of the RWDSU, and the righteous commitment of Bronx electeds that they will no loner accept crumbs for their struggling residents.