20, No. 2
Jan. 25 - Feb. 7, 2007
Bids Are In For Armory
Three Firms Submit Proposals
By ALEX KRATZ
The race to redevelop the Kingsbridge Armory into a massive
mixed-use facility is now a three-way contest.
While the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the quasi-public
entity spearheading the Armory’s development, remains tight-lipped about
which developers submitted proposals, the Norwood News learned that three
candidates have thrown their hats in the ring.
The Atlantic Development Group and the Related Company have each submitted
detailed proposals on how they would develop the Armory if given the
opportunity. The third candidate remains a mystery.
Atlantic, headed by prolific affordable housing magnate Peter Fine, signed
on with the Richman Group last year and worked closely with the Kingsbridge
Armory Redevelopment Alliance (KARA), an umbrella group of community
organizations, to create a detailed Armory proposal, which was presented to
the community in late May.
Fine made his presentation to Community Board 7, which was generally
well-received by KARA, in hopes of bypassing the Request for Proposals (RFP)
process. Atlantic even took the extra step of securing a new location for
the two National Guard units currently housed in the Armory’s annex
buildings. In the RFP, the EDC maintains that the relocation of the Guard
units will not be a factor in its decision making process.
If Fine’s new proposal looks anything like the one he presented in May, it
will include 1,000 parking spots, a movie theater multiplex, large and small
retail stores (including a big chain such as the home improvement giant
Lowes or the department store Kohl’s), a National Guard recruiting station,
and community space for youth and seniors. At the time, Fine said the YMCA
was interested in opening a branch at the Armory and that he would like to
identify a bookstore chain as well.
“We worked closely with local residents, civic leaders, clergy, education
advocates and elected officials to create a community-oriented plan that
would deliver schools, jobs, athletic facilities, entertainment, retail and
community space,” Atlantic officials said in an e-mail statement through its
public relations company.
Atlantic has completed several affordable housing developments in the Bronx
and recently won the contract to build a new Boricua College campus in
Melrose. In addition to classrooms and other school facilities, the plan for
the private bilingual college, which also has campuses in Brooklyn and
Manhattan, will include retail space, a high school, and 700 units of
Meanwhile, Related, which has close ties to Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, is
currently developing the Bronx Terminal Market into a massive
million-square-foot mall just south of Yankee Stadium. While Atlantic
primarily operates without much publicity in the New York City area, Related
is a multi-faceted national company with offices in Miami, Los Angeles and
Chicago in addition to its Manhattan offices.
Related’s portfolio includes $10 billion in developments, according to its
Web site (Atlantic, by contrast, doesn’t have a Web site). In total, Related
has developed or acquired 35,000 apartment units and four million square
feet of commercial space.
Dean Vanderwarker, one of Related’s associate vice presidents, said that he
couldn’t go into the details of his company’s proposal, but that it was
“still very interested in becoming the Armory’s designated developer.”
Related boss Stephen Ross and Doctoroff are longtime friends and former
business partners. When Related was pursuing the Bronx Terminal Market
project, residents and merchant advocates complained that they were shut out
of the negotiating process and that penalties weren’t steep enough if
Related did not come up with the goods stipulated in a Community Benefits
agreement, such as a provision that BJ’s Wholesale Club accept food stamps,
and invest $3 million in job training and referral programs. Elected
officials hailed the benefits agreement, however.
“This agreement should serve as the benchmark for doing business in our
borough and throughout the city,” said Bronx Borough President Adolfo
Carrión at the time.
While Related appears to enjoy the support of City Hall, Fine and Atlantic
have increased their ties with several prominent Bronx politicians through
tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions over the past few
Many of those same Bronx politicians, including Assemblyman and Bronx
Democratic boss Jose Rivera and his son Joel, the City Council majority
leader, among others, are represented on the Armory Task Force, an advisory
group that helped craft the RFP and will be reviewing the proposals and
One member of the task force, Greg Faulkner, who chairs Community Board 7
(which contains the Armory), says he’s looking forward to reviewing the
proposals at the next task force meeting on March 1. Task force members will
be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement before seeing the proposals,
which will be presented without the company names listed, kind of like a
blind taste test.
“I’m going in with a completely open mind,” Faulkner said when asked if
Fine’s earlier proposal would give Atlantic a leg up on the competition.
Faulkner said he’ll be looking at several different aspects in each
proposal. “I want to see what kind of businesses are going in. How creative
is the community space? How do you take advantage of the retail venue? Can
you sit in an area and read a book?”
Community Board 7 will have a chance to review the proposals soon after the
task force. The board will also be involved once the developer is selected
in June through the ULURP, a land review process mandated by the city
charter, during which time the community will have another chance to express
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