Vol. 17, No. 3  Jan. 29 - Feb. 11, 2004


Armory RFP Pushed Back


A city plan to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for the Kingsbridge Armory has been indefinitely postponed because of infighting among Bronx political leaders.

"We're reaching out to the borough president and elected officials about how to proceed" in writing the RFP, said Janel Patterson, spokesperson for the Economic Development Corporation (EDC), which is overseeing the armory's development. "We have to get it worked out [with them] before putting a timetable on it."

And Ariella Rosenberg, a staffer for Bronx office of the Department of City Planning, stated at a recent Community Board 7 meeting that the deadline for issuing the RFP was pushed back.

At a public meeting held by Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion last November, Council Member Maria Baez and Assemblyman Jose Rivera -- whose districts include the armory -- were no-shows. With Council Member Joel Rivera also unaccounted for, EDC decided to skip the meeting. 

"There was a problem getting that together," Patterson said. Asked why he did not attend the hearing, Jose Rivera previously told the Norwood News he had only been informed of it a day earlier.

Carrion was angered by EDC's absence and directed most of his fire that day at the mayor. But at a hearing on the Meals on Wheels program later that month, he was also noticeably snide toward Baez, who was chairing the meeting.

State Senator Efrain Gonzalez Jr., who was the only other politician at the armory meeting, is also frustrated by the delays. "The Bronx has been written off," he said. "The mayor hasn't been excited about the armory ... and all the new projects are for the other boroughs."

EDC seemed poised to advance the armory's development last year. After announcing it would begin a search for new developers (former mayor Rudy Giuliani had selected a developer to build a shopping mall at the site, but that plan collapsed after he left office), the city solicited ideas from Bronx officials in a September meeting about the RFP. Attendees who spoke then with the Norwood News seemed optimistic about the armory's progress and reported a consensus on including public schools in the final development mix.

But in a speech at a Crain's breakfast forum in November, the mayor made no mention of the armory in his wish list for citywide economic development projects. Patterson also did not indicate that another public meeting would be rescheduled soon.

In the meantime, developers have had to be patient. Waiting "is all we can do," said Bill Traylor, who heads The Richman Group of New York, a national real estate developer. The company agreed to collaborate on an armory proposal with the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition. While Traylor hasn't heard any updates about the RFP, he said that individual developers aren't usually kept abreast of the status of proposals.

Ed. note: Local students held a rally on Martin Luther King Day to press the city to include schools and other community uses in the development of the armory. Click here for story and photos.

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