The Long Road to the RFP (Timeline)
By JORDAN MOSS
From the time it was clear the state would hand over the landmark Kingsbridge Armory to the city in 1993, it took 13 years for the city to issue a request for proposals (RFP). With the help of the Norwood News archives, here’s a look at what happened along the way.
Early 1993 – Assemblyman Oliver Koppell secures $100,000 grant for the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp. to study “potential for the development of a world-class sports facility to function as a regional sports and exhibition arena.” (The study was never completed and funding was returned.)
Nov. 1993 – Norwood News publishes a broad overview on armory situation. In anticipation of city inheriting landmark the following year, District 10 Superintendent John Reehill outlines his vision for “educational park,” and Koppell champions a plan to convert the landmark into an amateur athletic facility.
Sept. 1994 – In Norwood News interview, new Superintendent Irma Zardoya said she supports “educational park” concept of her predecessor, but wondered, “Will the players come together?”.
Jan. 1996 – After 16 months, Zardoya brings various school officials and community leaders together for a tour of the armory.
Summer 1998 – Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition begins working with Pratt Institute to develop re-use proposal and facility study. Armory deteriorates; drill hall roof falling plank by plank onto the puddle-covered floor.
Oct./Nov. 1998 – Pratt drafts architectural drawings for armory incorporating ideas generated in summer planning meetings. Includes three 800-seat schools inside armory, a sports complex, a park and green market, restaurants, a bookstore and community center. Coalition holds first rally.
Dec. 1998 – Buildings Department declares armory “unfit.” City and state officials duel over ownership. Each says the other is in charge.
March 1999 – Giuliani administration forms armory task force of nine agencies. Residents complain they aren’t represented; elected officials are excluded, too.
June 1999 – Coalition meets with Councilman Adolfo Carrión who tells them their organizing is shaping the debate. “Every proposal I’m seeing [has space for schools],” he tells them. “This community’s proposal is now influencing every other proposal.”
Nov. 1999 – Carrión blasts administration’s “secrecy.” The Coalition and Pratt develop a more detailed proposal with the help of a grant from Booth Ferris Foundation.
Nov. 1999 – Carrión says city reviewing proposal that excludes schools; urges city to issue an RFP. (Two other proposals EDC receives, from Rosenshein Associates and Oval Economic Development Corp., incorporate some school space.) Scaffolding collapses on Jerome Avenue side of facility.
Dec. 1999 – Rosenshein Assoc. presents their proposal to Community Board 7. Calls for shopping mall, movie theater, athletic facilities and two schools.
Jan. 2000 – Mayor releases armory plan that calls for massive retail and entertainment center, but no schools. RD Management and Basketball City given lead role in redevelopment. Carrión: “A lot of pluses to mayor’s plans. The big gaping hole is, how do we address overcrowding? We must do that.” Pratt, Coalition continue to push their plan and explore use of federal tax-free bonds (QZABs) to aid redevelopment.
June 2000 – Coalition meets with RD Management in hopes of brokering a compromise on the schools issue. Don’t reach agreement.
Aug. 2000 – Several elected and school officials speak at Coalition Armory rally. While it’s in progress, EDC and engineers survey the condition of the armory.
Nov. 2000 – EDC outlines plan for new armory roof – a 13-month project funded by the City Council – which is now a patchwork of sky and wooden planks.
March 2001 – Carrión says he’s heard that RD Management is balking at the higher-than-expected redevelopment costs. Basketball City confirms to Norwood News that the “cost of construction” is a problem. Plan appears to be on life support as Giuliani administration enters its final months.
Feb. 2003 – The Richman Group, a national developer, picks up the Coalition’s proposal. DOE and EDC meet to discuss plan with encouragement from Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff.
July 2003 – EDC says it expects a “decision” on armory by mid-summer. RD plan reemerges, reportedly including more community space.
Sept. 2003 – City announces it will issue “an RFP sometime this fall.” Renovation of the 240,000-square-foot roof is completed.
Oct. 2003 – Schools at armory gains broad support in closed-door meeting at BOEDC. School Construction Authority insists, however, that schools be built outside the main facility “because of air quality.”
Dec. 2003 – Carrión holds armory hearing to influence RFP, but EDC pulls out at last minute. Assemblyman Jose Rivera and Council Member Maria Baez don’t show and EDC cites this as reason for their withdrawal.
Jan. 2004 – Coalition holds another armory rally. Jose Rivera says he’d like to see movies, schools, shops and athletic center.
Jan. 2004 – RFP indefinitely postponed, apparently due to political infighting. But State Senator Efrain Gonzalez says, “Bronx has been written off.” “Waiting is all we can do,” says Bill Traylor of the Richman Group.
June 2004 – City Council Hearing at Lehman College. Education emphasized. First time EDC, elected officials and community residents meet together. “We’re all on the same page,” declares Coalition’s Ronn Jordan. EDC still does not have date for RFP.
July 2004 – Relocation of National Guard unit stationed in annex buildings behind the armory emerges as a stumbling block.
Jan. 2005 – Focus shifts to state to find new home for Guard. Peter Fine of Atlantic Development Group, a contributor to Bronx politicians and the 2004 Republican convention, is recruited by officials as possible developer for a Guard space. Richman Group in discussion with Fine about joining forces on the project.
July 2005 – Norwood News launches Armory Clock after Governor Pataki tours armory with Jose Rivera and other officials. Pataki pledges to continue working with local officials counting the days from the governor’s visit to when an RFP is developed.
Nov. 2005 – Coalition forms
April 2006 – Richman Group and Fine say they’ve identified a potential Guard site. Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff slated to tour the armory.
May 2006 – Doctoroff tours armory. Promises RFP by August. “We’re ready to get rolling!” he says.
June 2006 – Fine and Richman Group tell Community Board 7 they’ve identified a site for Guard in Zerega section. At public meeting, they seek the Board’s support of their proposal, which includes 2,000 school seats, movie theater, retail stores and a YMCA. Board reserves judgment.
Sept. 2006 – RFP released! Norwood News stops the Armory Clock.
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