With their community vision plan in hand, the Together for Kingsbridge Community Working Group co-chairs are ready to officially take the next step as early as next week.
Economic Development Corp. vice president Fernando Ortiz — whose company owns the Kingsbridge Armory property at 29 W. Kingsbridge Road — announced before an excited crowd of more than 200 union and Kingsbridge community members that an official request for proposals will go out soon for the redevelopment of the historic Kingsbridge Armory.
“In the coming weeks, we will release the famous RFP,” Ortiz told the crowd Sunday in front of the armory.
“It will be out for four months. The idea is that people will submit proposals to the EDC. Then we will have a selection committee internally that will interview the contractors.
“We will ask them if you have the money that you say you do.
“We will ask who is part of your team. And did you look at the vision plan? How are you responding to those things in the vision plan?”
Once the winning bid is revealed, then the contractor will go through what is known as uniform land use review procedure, or ULURP, to get the necessary approvals and vetting to see how feasible that bid is, Ortiz told the crowd. Once that is completed, Ortiz hopes the redevelopment can begin by 2025.
The third attempt to redevelop the nearly 113-year-old former home to the New York State National Guard’s 258th Field Artillery Regiment continues an effort that started back in 1994.
The last two attempts failed due to disagreements about fair pay for union workers and the lack of a community vision plan. One of the proposals called for building a mammoth ice skating rink, but that too failed.
This time around the community groups and the EDC have agreed on including a community vision plan that addresses such issues as the environment and sustainability, emerging technologies, urban agriculture and film and television.
But more importantly, community organizers want the project to prioritize youth, welcome older adults, grow a regenerative local economy, maximize community ownership and foster intergenerational relationships.
Councilwoman Pierina Sanchez and Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition chair Sandra Lobo have led the Kingsbridge Armory redevelopment’s community vision plan effort.
“One of my first rallies was in 1994 when northwest Bronx was starting to have this conversation,” Lobo said. “I think what’s important this time is we were very proud about negotiating the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) last time.
“But ultimately the vision inside was not what the community was looking for (the ice rink). It was unfortunate that the EDC terminated the agreement.”
Lobo was glad the community can now resurrect a plan for the armory after 30 years of failure.
“It allowed us to revisit the original set of principles and values,” Lobo said about the latest proposal. “Today is about a celebration that the vision and the values and the principles that we have fought for over the last nine months are actually in the vision document.”
Sanchez spoke to the crowd during Sunday’s celebration after a moment of silence for 1-year-old Nicholas Dominici who died of a fentanyl overdose at a childcare center last week.
“We want to see here a project that will bring good-paying union jobs to the community,” she said. “That will bring intergenerational investment into our community.
“In no uncertain terms as a community that we want to say to the world, listen to what we want here. Listen to what our demands are.”
A rally of more than 200 community activists representing some 12 local unions and Lobo’s organization took to the streets outside the armory building to echo the sentiments of Sanchez and Lobo.
“It’s our armory and we want to make sure that whatever resources are used are put back into our community,” said Juan Nunez, one of the head organizers. “If you agree, make some noise.
“We’ve been left behind far too long. But as they’ve said the Bronx is not burning any more. We are the fire. We want to make sure our whole community benefits from what is going to be put in there.”