Vol. 12, No. 22 Nov. 18 - Dec. 1, 1999


School's Out
Armory Proposal Under Review Said to Have No Place for Education


The city's Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is reviewing a proposal to develop the vacant and deteriorating Kingsbridge Armory that calls for an athletic space retail anchor stores, and some community space, according to Councilman Adolfo Carrion. But schools are apparently nowhere in the mix.

"The proposal that they're looking at right now includes retail on Jerome, some retail anchors inside, community facility space, a Chelsea Piers-like gym floor and a multiplex movie theatre," Carrion said. "In that proposal I haven't heard anything about addressing the educational space needs."

Community residents working with the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition and the Pratt Institute have drafted plans for three 600-seat schools at the armory, combined with athletic facilities and some commercial use. Two other proposals, one from Rosenshein Associates, a Westchester-based developer of shopping malls, and another from the Oval Economic Development Corporation, an entity associated with former city councilman Israel Ruiz, incorporate some space for schools in addition to retail and other uses.

Carrion said he did not know who submitted the proposal that EDC is now reviewing. A spokeswoman for the agency did not return two calls requesting comment.

Still concerned that he and his constituents have been locked out of the planning process (see \, Nov. 4 - 17), Carrion urged the Giuliani administration to issue a request for proposals (RFP). "We need to push this process," he said. "We need to convince this administration to issue an RFP. The city's procurement rules require that everything be open to bid, and I think they cannot do it without and RFP."

Carrion also said any RFP should be tailored to the community's needs. "I think that whatever plan is developed there must address the education needs of District 10," he said. "Now, it may not be the traditional classroom model. I think we have to stay creative. There's a way of creating space that multiple schools can use." Carrion cited a multi-media library accessible to all local public schools as an example.

Because any proposal is likely to include at least some private uses, Carrion said it probably would have to go through the traditional land use review procedure that would begin at the community board level and end at the City Council.

In other armory news, community residents are blaming the city for a scaffolding collapse during a heavy rainstorm in early November on the Jerome Avenue side of the facility.

"Why is the building not being fixed?" asked Eloy Garcia, a 16-year-old Fordham Bedford resident who narrowly escaped the collapse. "If it was being fixed, we wouldn't need the scaffolding. If it had fallen during the day, [students from the three nearby schools] would have gotten killed." Coincidentally, Garcia has been working with the Kingsbridge Heights Neighborhood Improvement Association to develop and promote the coalition's plans for the facility. The scaffolding was erected around the perimeter of the armory last year when the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development declared the landmark building structurally unsound.

Also on the armory front, sources close to the situation who asked not to be identified, said that Fordham University is in the process of approaching the city about leasing a portion of the building for parking on an interim basis, an arrangement which could provide revenue for ongoing maintenance and repairs while the city decides what to do with the facility.

Ed. note: All Norwood News articles about the armory published over the last 18 months can be retrieved from our Web site: www.bronxmall.com/norwoodnews.

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