Two years after plans to build a mall at the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx were shot down, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is launching a new effort that he’ll unveil in his State of the City address Thursday. NY1’s Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
It was a major political battle. On one side, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who sought to have a private developer build a shopping mall at the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx, was aided by city subsidies and tax breaks.
On the other side were Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., union leaders and the City Council, which derailed the plan because the developer wouldn’t guarantee the mall’s workers a so-called living wage of $10 an hour plus benefits.
“In my book, this is an economic exploitation project,” said Bronx City Councilman Joel Rivera back in 2009.
Now the mayor is giving it another try. The Bloomberg administration says it’s heard from a number of interested developers and will begin formally soliciting proposals for the armory Thursday.
The big difference this time is that Diaz is onboard.
“The last time, it was about not just living wage, it was also about usage. But 2009 is behind us, and so, we are moving forward,” says Diaz.
Still, the request for proposals—or “RFP”—is not much different from the last one issued in 2006. The city says it will favor proposals that incorporate a living wage but won’t require it.
Another group that opposed the last plan, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, wouldn’t take a position Wednesday, saying it’s focused on passing a City Council bill that would require all projects receiving large city subsidies to pay a living wage.
As for the council itself, a spokesman said, “Anything that helps brings jobs to the Bronx is a welcome development.”
As to what could get built here, the city says only that suburban style big-box stores are discouraged.
The armory plan is just one of the initiatives the mayor will highlight on Thursday, when he delivers his 11th State of the City speech at the Morris High School Campus in the Bronx.
NY1 will carry the mayor's speech live Thursday starting at 1 p.m.