Now that $200 million in state and city funding has been secured for another proposed redevelopment of the beleaguered Kingsbridge Armory, neighbors, activists and local electeds need to make sure the outcome is a positive one this time.
Those responsibilities rest on the reputation and record of Councilwoman Pierina Sanchez and Sandra Lobo, executive director of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition. The redevelopment plan calls for using the site for vocational training, a small business incubator, retail, food, and beverage establishments, as well as a Bronx arts and culture space.
While the new funding comes from Gov. Kathy Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams and property owner Economic Development Corp., the working group Together for Kingsbridge is the reason redevelopment will work.
Together for Kingsbridge spent nine months holding workshops with neighbors and other concerned parties getting input and vetting redevelopment opportunities for the 106-year-old, 180,000-square-foot facility on Jerome Avenue and West Kingsbridge Road. The product of those workshops is a vision plan unveiled by Hochul and Adams last week at the armory.
That community engagement process resurrected redevelopment at the armory, reaching more than 4,000 people.
That included nine Bronx Community Board 7 meetings, 16 small group discussions, and feedback from more than 75 industry stakeholders.
The cynical Kingsbridge residents and businesses among us are thinking, “We’ve been here before.” And they would be correct. Planning efforts for the Kingsbridge Armory date back nearly three decades, and include two major projects that failed to advance through City Council or obtain necessary financing.
There was a shopping mall complex proposed in 2008 by The Related Cos., which pledged to invest $310 million, but it couldn’t reach a living wage agreement with Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance, who represented unions, activists and community groups.
Then in 2012, a Deutsche Bank group announced a plan to build the world’s largest indoor ice skating rink, which would include a 5,000-seat ice hockey arena. But the Kingsbridge National Ice Center could only raise $35 million of a necessary $205 million for the project.
It failed in 2021.
This time, Together for Kingsbridge may have a leg up on the other two failed plans. It has startup funding from the city and state, and has a vision plan that already has important support from local businesses and residents. Now it just needs a developer willing to take the project to the finish line.
If the Economic Development Corp., and the community group can keep the focus of the new Kingsbridge Armory to the vision set forth in the plan announced last week, then this time, promises will be kept. Hochul believes the redevelopment effort could deliver more than 1,800 jobs — mostly construction jobs — and up to $10 billion in economic impact to the Bronx.
We believe through the leadership of Councilwoman Sanchez and Lobo, this redevelopment project really has a chance to bear fruit and start a new chapter for the Kingsbridge Armory.