Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kingsbridge Re-Moat?

The NY Daily News is reporting that negotiations over the fate of the Kingsbridge Armory have stalled: "The Kingsbridge Armory cliff-hanger will keep dangling well into next month, after a failed attempt yesterday to reach a compromise on the living wage issue there. Bronx Council delegation members, who met with Deputy Mayor Robert Lieber, said they are determined to hold out until the last possible minute."

In a surprise move, however, Council member Joel Rivera told the News that the council may modify the land use application, and send it back to City Planning in order to buy a bit more time to negotiate with the city: "Normally, under the city's tightly scripted ULURP, the full Council would have to vote on the proposal by Dec. 14, or else the project would be approved by default.
Project opponents on the zoning subcommittee plan to extend that time with a vote to modify the proposal, which will send it back - according to the ULURP script - to the City Planning Commission for a two-week review before the full Council must act. By putting off the vote to modify until Dec. 9 - the last possible day for the subcommittee to act - opponents would effectively stretch the deadline to Dec. 21."

But if the Bronx delegation holds firm, time isn't on the city's side-and unless someone breaks the logjam, the whole deal could be turned down: "Rivera remains confident the Bronx delegation - which opposes approving the deal without a commitment on living wage retail jobs - can marshal the votes to kill the project if Related won't agree. Related's lawyer, Jesse Masyr, has long maintained that agreeing to a living wage mandate would doom the project. "It wouldn't be too surprising," Masyr said before yesterday's hearing."

How much of this is posturing is hard to determine-and it should be pointed out that total defeats are as rare at the council as snow in August. Still, if attitudes continue to harden, it will make resolution that much more difficult to achieve: "But Rivera said, "It's not like that neighborhood is starved for retail," pointing to nearby Fordham Road as the third busiest shopping corridor in the city. With both sides holding to their hard lines, Rivera said he expected the fight to come down to the wire - sometime around Dec. 21 under the city's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure."

The News points out that any resolution that either leads to a living wage deal, or kills the plan outright, will be perceived as a victory for Bronx BP Ruben Diaz-the instigator of the new militancy: "Whether the project is killed or saved by some last-minute wage compromise, either option would be a tasty stocking stuffer for Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who took on the armory wage fight as a signature issue after his election earlier this year."

So, the ball's in the city's-and Related's-court. We believe that compromise should be reached-and usually is-but what that might look like is hard to envision, even at this late date.