Vol. 13, No. 25    Dec. 28, 2000 - Jan. 10, 2001



     
 

Market Owner: Armory Plan Bad for Business  

By JORDAN MOSS

While the Giuliani administration promises more jobs and economic
development if its plan for redeveloping the Kingsbridge Armory into a 
shopping and entertainment complex is realized, a prominent local 
businessman in the Fordham area warns that the project will devastate 
businesses in the shadow of the landmark facility.

"It would, without a doubt, represent a lethal blow against the neighborhood that I love," said Morton Sloan, the chief operating officer of a chain of Associated supermarkets, at a City Council hearing on Nov. 14. "To superimpose hundreds of thousands of square feet of big-box retail on this neighborhood will simply destroy the quality of life of the Kingsbridge community. The same pattern of abandonment that we have seen all over the country will repeat itself in this area of the Bronx. The big-box cannibals will not only destroy my store, they will suck the economic life out of Fordham Road and the smaller commercial strips nearby." 

Sloan, whose family has owned a supermarket steps from the armory on Kingsbridge Road since 1956 and six others in Manhattan, said the traffic impact of the mayor's armory project will also wreak havoc with businesses and quality of life in the area. "We already have trouble getting our trucks in and out," he said, adding that there are already safety concerns with so many children leaving PS 81, PS 340 and Walton High School just behind the armory.

Sloan, who grew up in the Bronx, said his company has plans to open another $5 million supermarket in the area. He said he particularly resents the city creating competition with taxpayer money that could kill his supermarket and other local businesses.

Up until now, most of the opposition to the mayor's armory plan has come from local parents, school officials, and some politicians who believe that the armory should be mainly utilized to relieve severe overcrowding in local schools. Merchants have largely been silent on the issue. But Sloan says that neighboring businesses are "absolutely terrified" of the city's proposal.

The mayor's plan must navigate a six-month land use review process called ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) that will require the approval of various levels of city government beginning with Community Board 7 and ending at the City Council. City Councilman Adolfo Carrion, who called for the hearing, said he believes that compromise will result from that process.

"The public review process is where a lot of the haggling takes place to ensure that the community is heard and is responded to, and gets what it needs," Carrion said. "Folks who know this process understand that we're going to enter that phase, and, until we get there, other than continuing to put the pressure and make the issue a public one, the negotiating happens as you approach the deadline."

Carrion said officials of the city's Economic Development Corporation, the city agency spearheading the project, indicated that they would seek to initiate the ULURP process within the next couple of months.

Local parents fighting for school space in the armory said they were disappointed in the EDC's inability to answer basic questions about the project's impacts on traffic and on local business. "The EDC was totally unprepared and [Councilwoman] June [Eisland] and Adolfo both asked questions that they couldn't answer," said Ronn Jordan, a parent activist whose children attend school in Norwood.

According to Eisland, who chairs the Council's Land use Committee, EDC officials said that a traffic study and an economic analysis would be done by RD Management, the developer the city awarded the project to, as the project moves forward.

Carrion would like to see EDC do an economic study that included commercial districts on Fordham Road, the Grand Concourse, and Broadway. "There's all this economic activity taking place," he said. "We should look at it as a whole. When we say we're going to put this massive development here, what will be the impact?"

Ed. note: All Kingsbridge Armory articles from the Norwood News published over the last two and a half years are available at this website. Click on "ongoing story."

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