20, No. 13
June 28 - July 11, 2007
Board to Weigh in on Armory Proposals
By ANNIE SHREFFLER
mega mall on Kingsbridge Road, complete with a multi-screen cinema, food
court, gymnasium and several floors of retail stores. It’s being called “a
destination” by developers who submitted proposals to turn the landmark
Kingsbridge Armory into a local hub of shopping, entertainment and community
About 20 people, including members of Community Board 7, the Northwest Bronx
Community and Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC, which created the Kingsbridge Armory
Redevelopment Alliance, known as KARA), and a few interested local
residents, attended a meeting hosted by CB7 at the New York Botanical Garden
on June 12. It was an opportunity for the city’s Economic Development
Corporation (EDC) to present plans for the Armory submitted by developers
Atlantic Development Group, the Related Companies and Rosenshein Associates.
The three proposals, presented anonymously as A, B and C, would be anchored
by large chains such as Home Depot, ShopRite or JC Penney and other
well-known stores like Dress Barn, PC Richards, DSW and Marshalls. Where the
plans differ is in suggestions for community use.
Project A suggested devoting 23,000 square feet to an outdoor farmers market
and included a 6,000-square-foot daycare center. Project B included ideas
for gardening education (perhaps in cooperation with the New York Botanical
Garden) and, as part of a community center operated by YMCA, a full
basketball court with viewing balcony.
(A year ago, the Atlantic Development Group presented an initial proposal to
Community Board 7 which included a YMCA.)
All three proposals include chain restaurants, among them Dallas BBQ, Red
Lobster, Ruby Tuesdays and Pizzeria Uno. However, project A incorporated a
banquet hall into its space and allowed for fewer chains than projects B and
Project C scored points over the other two in its ideas for local
employment. Like A and B, it agreed to work with nearby agencies, but it
also suggested a mentoring program and a monitoring system to ensure
retailers comply with agreements.
The EDC pointed out concerns with project B incorporating a home improvement
store, which demands an excessive number of parking spaces. Only B, however,
offered long-term parking. They also rejected project B’s plans to alter the
armory’s brand new roof for a garden and questioned changes to the exterior
of the building to create an entrance directly from the number 4 train
EDC officials evaluated the projects according to how detailed each proposal
was about land use, environmental design and employment opportunities. Only
A and B received passing grades, implying that proposal C was essentially
out of the running.
In response, members of the community praised the suggestion of a daycare
center, but expressed concerns over a lack of organized activities in
designated community space for youth from nearby high schools. One CB7
member suggested a “computer clubhouse” to offer technology training and
supplement on-line access provided by local libraries.
Other suggestions included inviting hospitals to offer patient outreach, and
attracting health-minded retailers like Whole Foods.
Some attendees expressed dismay at the list of retailers, one calling it
“generic stuff to develop a mall which you can reproduce a few blocks away.”
In fact, potential tenants Kids World and Modell’s Sporting Goods already
reside on Fordham Road, only three blocks south.
At the meeting, members of NWBCCC, which has been heavily involved with
discussions surrounding the armory since the late 1990s, distributed a list
of suggestions supported by KARA.
They want retailers to work with a local organization to hire employees and
more space for community gardening and youth organizations such as the
Police Athletic League or YMCA. They want walking space designated for
seniors and one cinema screen reserved for independent or foreign films.
They also suggested reduced parking fees for teachers and owners of hybrid
cars, installation of bike racks and more reflection of the neighborhood’s
ethnic diversity in the food court.
To end the meeting, EDC offered to take new suggestions to the developers
and urged guests to submit any further ideas or concerns to District Manager
Rita Kessler at the CB7 office.
CB7 Chair Greg Faulkner said he believes the city remains genuinely
interested in giving the community a chance to respond to the proposals. And
in fact, the EDC staff was scheduled to make the same presentation at the
board office in Bedford Park on June 26 for the benefit of newly elected
Based on discussions at the Tuesday meeting and before the month is over,
Faulkner said CB7, per EDC’s request, will submit a list of its own
recommendations. He said they are sympathetic to recommendations made
earlier by the public and NWBCCC.
The EDC has said they will choose a developer sometime
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