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Old Posted Sep 13, 2012, 3:05 PM
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Community Group Wants a Say in Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment

September 12, 2012
By Patrick Wall

While two would-be redevelopers of the Kingsbridge Armory duke it out, a local group long dedicated to the building’s renewal wants to make sure the community isn’t forgotten. The developers proposing a nine-rink ice sports center for the armory on Monday touted a study they commissioned, which predicts $88 million in annual economic activity for the city if the project is selected. On Tuesday, the developer behind a shopping and entertainment plan for the site announced new members of a “hip hop federation” whose idea for a hip-hop museum is part of the proposal.

And on Wednesday, members of the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance, the community coalition, are expected to gather outside the armory to remind developers of their demands for the site. “We want a developer who comes into our neighborhood and actually enlists the expertise of people who live in the community,” said Alice McIntosh, a leader of KARA, a coalition of labor, religious and community groups, which played a role in the defeat of an earlier plan to redevelop the site.

Chief among their demands is for the developer to sign an enforceable agreement that it honor any promises it makes to the community. That way, “when all the trucks and the fancy developers leave, we have something in writing that says they’re going to hold up their end of the bargain,” McIntosh said.

The developer behind the ice facility, called the Kingsbridge National Ice Center, promised that all the 170 full-time jobs at the center would pay a living wage. Youngwoo & Associates, the developer behind the mixed-use complex, called Mercado Mirabo, promised at least 170 living-wage jobs at the site, though they will not set wage requirements for all of their tenants.

Diaz announced his support of the ice center plan last month, citing the living-wage promise as one reason. Diaz also raised concerns that the merchants in Mercado Mirabo’s “creative market” would compete with local businesses. But KARA would consider such competition healthy, as long as the new merchants are not big-box stores, McIntosh said. “The borough president is one person,” she added. “He is not the voice of the community.”
As for the proposals themselves, McIntosh questioned whether Bronxites are really “ice people” who will use the rinks. But she also said that when many residents hear “market,” they think “flea.” Both developers said they have met multiple times with community members, including KARA.
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