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Lack Of Development At Kingsbridge Armory Draws Criticism From Bloomberg
Courtney Gross

September 23, 2011
View the Original Article

The Kingsbridge Armory has stood vacant in the Bronx for over a decade despite proposals that would’ve used it to generate jobs, and after the United States Census revealed that the Bronx has the highest poverty rate in the city, Mayor Michael Bloomberg criticized its stagnation Friday. NY1’s Courtney Gross filed the following report.

Nearly two years after the City Council defeated a proposal to develop the Kingsbridge Armory, the project has once again sparked a dispute between City Hall and the Bronx.

On his radio show Friday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg took a dig at Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. for letting the project die.

"Related Companies wanted to go and build there. There was this craziness that they had to guarantee that whoever they leased space to would pay prevailing wages," said Bloomberg.

The mayor said the building, which has sat vacant for more than a decade, wastes taxpayer dollars.

The city spends $120,000 on the building's upkeep every year. The project was supposed to bring more than 2,000 jobs.

"The borough president said he was going to find solutions and he was going to find people to come in. Well that went nowhere," said Bloomberg.

Diaz begs to differ.

"I am really confused about what the mayor said this morning. I don't know where it's coming from, and I don't think it's conducive or productive in moving the conversation forward," said Diaz.

Related would have received city subsidies for the project. There is now a bill at the City Council to require living wages at every city subsidized development. Its future is uncertain.

"Having living wage jobs, passing the living wage bill, will make sure people aren't living in poverty," said Ademola Oyefeso of the RWDSU/Living Wage NYC Coalition.

The Kingsbridge debate has particular relevance now because the city is still grappling with unemployment.

On Thursday, the U.S. Census unveiled figures showing poverty was at its highest here in 10 years. It's the highest in the Bronx.

Nonetheless, the borough president has no regrets.

"I have no regrets about what happened before. There has got to be a better way to develop the armory," said Diaz.

This is not the first time a project has been rejected at the Kingsbridge Armory. Mayor Giuliani also wanted to develop there, but that was rejected because of community opposition. The Bloomberg administration says there are no projects in the pipeline.