Kingsbridge Armory RFP coming in September with $200M from taxpayers

Adams, Hochul release “guiding principles” but vision remains fuzzy

NYC Unveils Principles for Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment
Governor Kathy Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams and Kingsbridge Armory (NYC EDC, Getty)

City and state officials Tuesday revealed a long list of principles that developers aiming to reinvent the nation’s largest armory will have to meet.

The guidance will inform a request for proposals to be issued next month for redevelopment of the city-owned Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx, Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul announced, adding that they would kick in $200 million.

Although the project itself has not even been conceived, a press release from the mayor claimed it could generate more than 1,800 jobs and up to $10 billion in economic impact, including 1,100 construction jobs.

The armory developer’s mandate, which grew from a series of community workshops in the Bronx, is that the project to be a source of local jobs and economic opportunity, prioritizing community engagement and sustainable growth. Andrew Kimball, president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, will oversee the process.

The city is charting a different path than the Bloomberg administration did in the mid 2000s when it selected Related Companies over Young Woo and other firms to redevelop the massive armory.

Related planned a shopping complex but Bronx Democrats insisted all contractors and tenants at the site pay a “living wage.” Mayor Michael Bloomberg refused, saying the clause would make it difficult to attract tenants. The plan was scrapped without ever coming to a City Council vote, and the armory has been vacant ever since.

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A second plan, for a complex of ice rinks, did win political approval, but the development team, which included former hockey great Mark Messier, spent eight years in a fruitless effort to get financing. Perpetual sniping and litigation between the would-be developers and the de Blasio administration led to nothing, and in late 2021, the city pulled the plug.

The new initiative has sought to avoid political opposition by gathering feedback from Bronx residents and weaving their wishes into the RFP. They include creating local jobs, boosting intergenerational relationships, and growing the local economy. Whether the project can pencil out and meet its lofty societal goals is unknown, but the $200 million subsidy should help.

“What sets our administration’s approach to the armory apart from the past is a focus on community engagement and public investment,” Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer said in a statement.

The city acquired the cavernous building in 1996, five years after it was decommissioned for military use.

“After sitting down with more than 4,000 Bronxites over the past nine months,” Adams said in a press release, “we are proud to deliver their vision for the armory’s next chapter: a source for good union jobs and a beacon of opportunity for the Bronx.”

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