Vol. 14, No.6   March 22 - April 4, 2001


Is Time Running Out on Mayor's Armory Plan?


With less than 10 months left in the administration of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, some local officials and activists are saying his plan to turn the vacant Kingsbridge Armory into a shopping mall is on the critical list.

To realize the proposal, which includes a movie theatre, retail shopping, and a recreational sports facility, the city's Economic Development Corporation (EDC) must first navigate a six-month procedural gauntlet known as ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure). The EDC, which is the lead city agency pushing the proposal, must also complete an environmental review before the ULURP process begins and certify its ULURP application with the Department of City Planning.

Councilman Adolfo Carrion also said he has heard the developer is balking at the higher- than-expected cost of redeveloping the armory. Asked if the mayor had time to carry out his plan, Carrion said, "No." Carrion is considering forming a Bronx-based task force on the armory.

A key player confirmed that there were problems related to the cost of the redevelopment project. Asked whether his company had secured tenants for the facility, Bruce Radler, an official with Basketball City, a partner in the redevelopment plan with RD Management, told the Norwood News, "Tenants are not the problem. It's just the building and the cost of construction and everything like that." He did not elaborate and an EDC official did not return a call seeking comment.  

Norman Marcus, who served as counsel to the City Planning Commission for many years and is now advising the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition in its efforts to push the city to include public schools in its redevelopment plan, also believes that time is running out.

"This is really a full plate of procedures and it would almost seem that if [the city] didn't get started very soon, they couldn't expect to finish it before the end of the year," Marcus said.

Though members of the coalition want to see the deteriorating landmark rehabilitated and are pleased that the city has begun restoring the crumbling roof over the armory's massive drill hall, they believe it would be a tragedy not to use at least part of the facility to ease the chronic school space shortage in the area.

Marcus believes that the planning process can allow for the inclusion of alternatives. If the city were to do an environmental review - a more thorough process than an environmental assessment - then an alternative proposal that includes a public school component could be considered as the planning process progresses from the local community board all the way up the political pecking order to the City Council.

"You don't have to start with the schools, but if the proposal is designed properly, it could accommodate adding those schools," Marcus said.

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