Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Empty Armory Predictions

Dave Seifman speculated yesterday that the "empty" Kingsbridge Armory could come back to haunt Bronx Beep Ruben Diaz: "Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is in a bind. Last year, he took on the Bloomberg administration and led the successful fight to block development of the long-vacant Kingsbridge Armory into a $310 million shopping mall. Hailed as a hero in some quarters, Diaz now has to come up with a suitable use for the shuttered armory if he intends to run for citywide office in 2013, as many suspect he does. "Everywhere he goes, that seems to be the first question people ask him," said one, referring to the armory issue. "He's got a big problem," observed a Bronx elected official. "No one's been able to do anything with this thing, and now he comes along and stops the only development that seemed to have a chance."

Oh, please, no unnamed sources! Who could that guy be who's predicting problems for Ruben three years from now because of, of all things, the empty Kingsbridge Armory? It certainly can't be any of the Bronx council members who all signed on for the CBA and living wage fight. And what about someone who will stand up on principle for what he perceives to be in the interest of the community and neighborhood Mom and Pop businesses?

But seriously, let's not forget that the Speaker-another potential city wide candidate-also signed on to the opposition platform. So, who does that leave, Scott Stringer? The guy who did a 180 on his opposition to the use of eminent domain for Columbia? If the Court of Appeals upholds the Appellate Court ruling in favor of Nick Sprayregen, Stringer's cave will not look too attractive.

Which leaves the task of actually finding something that works for the still vacant Armory: "Recognizing his dilemma, Diaz last week named a task force -- the third in a decade -- to spend six months coming up with yet another development plan. In a conciliatory gesture, he offered a spot on the panel to Seth Pinsky, chairman of the city's Economic Development Corp., who respectfully refused. EDC spent years putting together the shopping-mall deal, only to see it fall apart when Diaz and others demanded that all businesses in the new facility be forced to pay a "living wage" of $10 an hour, plus $1.50 in benefits."

Well, that's one interpretation, but a more cogent one is that EDC had set up a task force with clear guidelines only to sit by passively while Related crafted a proposal-including a supermarket-that contradicted the essence of the original parameters laid out in the biddng guidelines. And let's not forget-as Council member Koppell has pointed out-that it was the mayor and his minions who took their Armory ball and went home rather than negotiate over the living wage issue.

All of which is surely fascinating Bronx scuttlebutt, but will have absolutely zero impact on who the next mayor-or any other city wide official-will be three years hence. Seifman should consult with us before venturing out onto this Bronx limb.