Tag Archives: Kingsbridge Armory

Next Steps to Revive Land Next to Bronx Step Street?

21 May

On Kingsbridge Terrace in the northwest Bronx neighborhood of Kingsbridge Heights there is a significantly high step street heading down to Heath Avenue and West 229th Street that is in terrible, dangerous condition. At the April meeting of Community Board 8’s Traffic and Transportation Committee, The city’s Department of Design and Construction announced the reconstruction of that step street, with work beginning next spring and ending 15 months later if all goes well. It’s a much needed project that includes something cool: a path to roll your bike  — instead of carrying it — up the steps.

On a related note, yesterday, when I went for a morning run, I saw a large, neighboring bit of land through a circular hole in the wooden fence.

What was this empty area neighboring the 229th Street step street in Kingsbridge Heights? Photo by Jordan Moss

What was this empty area neighboring the 229th Street step street in Kingsbridge Heights? Photo by Jordan Moss

The material on its grounds looks like former playground equipment. Anyone know what this was? Any plans to restore it? Thought I’d check it out with neighbors and other Bronx Matters readers before I checked in with DDC or other city agencies.

-Jordan Moss

Another New Bronx Restaurant Headed Our Way in Kingsbridge

12 May

The newest restaurant addition— there have been many in recent months — that is still under a bit of construction in Kingsbridge is the Tilila Bar and Grill (might be another name in there but not certain). It’s where the Bottom Line on Bailey Avenue (and 231st Street) was for a few years with apparently insufficient success. But the wooden construction-hiding boards covering the place were torn down like a week ago, uncovering a turquoise bar/restaurant that looks more like a cool house, maybe in New Orleans, like my friends the Aucoins, who know NOLA very well, told me.

Co-owner of new restaurant on Bailey Ave. in Kingsbridge, TK, says he hopes it opens at the end of the May. (Photo by Jordan Moss)

Co-owner of new restaurant on Bailey Ave. in Kingsbridge,  Jose Severino says he hopes it opens at the end of the May. (Photo by Jordan Moss)

Tilila already has feet in local nabes thanks to its co-owners. Jose Severino (in photo above) owns the Burrito Shop on Broadway near Manhattan College, and his partner Henry Gonzalez owns Tin Marin, another popular restaurant up the hill on the other side of Broadway on Riverdale Avenue.

Severino hopes the new joint will open at the end of the month and that looks likely. The furniture appears to have arrived and the walls are filled with art and photographs.

It may not be open yet but as you can see from this pic, Tilila is gettin' there. (Photo by Jordan Moss)

It may not be open yet but as you can see from this pic, Tilila is almost there. (Photo by Jordan Moss)

He told me Tilila is going to include the following: Flamenco once a month; karaoke once a week; a huge bar menu including tapas, chicken, steak and fish. And some time of day (I didn’t get it down precisely) there will be beer for a buck.

As locals know, Tilila adds to the opening of a couple new, and relatively new, restaurants on the same curved block: 100% (great fruit smoothy café open all day and much of the eve) and A Capella Pizza, which just opened last week.

Is Kingsbridge Armory Ice Plan in Danger of Melting?

7 Jun
How problematic is a legal battle between Kingsbridge Armory ice palace partners? Photo by J. Moss

How problematic is a legal battle between Kingsbridge Armory ice palace partners?
Photo by J. Moss

Transforming the Kingsbridge Armory into the world’s largest ice skating Mecca is under fire as its key developer, Kevin Parker,  is engaged in a legal battle with partners, DNAinfo has reported. The Norwood News had a bit to add to the story. If you’re interested in a longer background (like 17 years) leading up to the deal community activists made with Kingsbridge National Ice Center, check out my story from August in City Limits’ Bronx Bureau.

—Jordan Moss

Big News: Bronx Pols Get Behind Ice Center at Armory

22 Aug

Daniel Massey of Crain’s reported today that Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and other borough elected officials will announce their support for the Kingsbridge National Ice Center’s vision for the Kingsbridge Armory. The project is one of two under consideration by the city’s Economic Development Corporation, the other one being a small-business market like the DeKalb Market in Brooklyn owned by Young Woo. For more info on both prospects,  click here for a link to BronxTalk which featured presentations by both potential developers.

An interesting note: Almost 20 years ago, when I first began reporting on the vacated Armory, Oliver Koppell, now a Council member but then a state assemblyman, loved to talk about the possibility of the Armory being home to an ice complex. As I recall, he said his daughter had trained at such a facility in Lake Placid. No one really paid that much attention. But despite several other non-ice proposals in the mix over the two decades, Koppell never seemed to let go of the idea entirely. I remember him telling George Pataki about the ice center when the former governor came to tour the facility several years ago.

—Jordan Moss

‘Best’ Living Wage Law Is in San Jose

30 Apr

The long debated and delayed living wage legislation, emanating from an epic land use battle at the Kingsbridge Armory, is coming to a vote today.

A press release drafted by the retail workers union and the Living Wage NYC Coalition, which we received from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.’s office yesterday, states: “Culminating an historic two-year campaign that created a citywide living wage movement that sets the standards for nationwide policies, the final Living Wage Bill will be voted on by the New York City Council at the stated meeting this coming Monday.”

The ” sets-the-standards” language is consistent with Diaz and his staff repeatedly reffering to the legislation as the “best” in the country.

The Council legislation here initially affected retailers in developments receiving taxpayer subsidies. But it was eventually gutted to only include employees of the developer and then further whittled down by Council Speaker Christine Quinn exempting workers at a massive development on the west side of Manhattan. Estimates now indicate that about 400 workers will benefit from the NYC legislation and only if the Council can override the mayor’s vowed veto.

As far as we know, only Riverdale Press reporter Adam Wisnieski  has bothered to check out the claim that this bill is the “best” in the land. He found that through a 1998 law in San Jose, more workers receive higher pay  in a city about an eighth the size of NYC.

Approximately 600 workers were affected in San Jose, a city with less than 1 million people when a living wage law was passed in 1998, according to a study on living wage by the University of Washington. The subsidy threshold is lower than what will be required to trigger the law New York. The definition of “living wage” also changes with the cost of living.

Right now, any developer receiving $100,000 or more in taxpayer subsides in San Jose is required to pay $13.59 per hour with health benefits or $14.84 per hour without benefits, according to the city’s website.

Compare that to New York’s $1 million subsidy threshold and requirement to pay $10 per hour with benefits and $11.50 without, and San Jose has a stronger living wage bill than New York.

And, arguably, a measure in Los Angeles bests the bill here as well, Wisnieski reports.

Morning Matters — 4/9/12

9 Apr

Lots of young art enthusiasts were at the Andrew Freedman home over the weekend for a fabulous exhibit on two floors of the reimagined buildings and the mobile unit of the fledgling Bronx Children's Museum. (Photo: J. Moss)

Good morning … well, afternoon (At least I started this in the a.m.:-) Lots to catch up on. Bronx artists and their advocates say the borough is undergoing an unprecedented coalescing of efforts to make an already interesting art scene more robust and visible to a larger audience. The expansive art show at the long-empty upper floors of the Andrew Freedman Home, where I took the picture above yesterday, signals a turning point, say some artists and enthusiasts.

As Bob Kappstatter surmised a couple of weeks ago on Bronx Matters, when Gov. Cuomo appointed Bronx Assemblyman Peter Rivera to be state Labor commissioner he probably was acting on the certainty that an investigation into his dealings with a failing nonprofit no longer had legs:

“Gov. Cuomo’s appointment also apparently quashes once and for all a dark legal cloud Rivera’s been living under involving his pumping major state funding to the just about moribund Neighborhood Enhancement for Training Services (NETS) non-profit.”

But that doesn’t mean the tabloids got the memo. This morning the Daily News highlighted four lawmakers with ethics issues who Cuomo has appointed to important positions, including Rivera. As attorney general, Cuomo began the investigation into Rivera and NETS ,but after he was elected he appointed Rivera to a transition committee on labor and economic development. More background on Rivera and NETS from the Bronx News Network here and here.

Our post on Friday about The New York Times’ coverage of Heritage Field, the new baseball diamonds built on the footprint of the old Yankee Stadium, started a little bit of a chain reaction in the blogsphere. After Neil deMause in Field of Schemes (the pre-eminent source on up-to-date information on stadium projects and financing nationally) and Norman Oder in Atlantic Yards Report linked to Bronx Matters, starting a comment conversation on the latter about the the Times’ overall coverage (or lack thereof) of the entire Yankee Stadium controversy. Later on, Oder posts a letter that Geoffrey Croft of New York City Park Advocates wrote him with a blow-by-blow account of how reporter Winnie Hu went about covering the story and Croft’s critique about what he feels she glaringly left out.

The latest HuntsPoint Express, a terrific print & web monthly produced by former Riverdale Press editor/publisher Buddy Stein with his students at Hunter College, is out with some critical articles, especially on the DOE’s plans to close Banana Kelly High School and the ensuing protests. There’s also a follow-up web-only article about a DOE official meeting with teachers and parents on April 4 in the school’s cafeteria.  The DOE’s Panel for Educational Policy will decide at a meeting on April 26 whether it will go ahead with plans to close 33 schools.

The Norwood News has an update on the city’s process for choosing a developer for the Kingsbridge Armory, including a report on the rally held by the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance late last month. Community and labor activists are calling for “wall-to-wall” living wage jobs at the Armory regardless of who develops the facility. Contenders include a group calling itself the Kingsbridge National Ice Center and the a partnership between the National Cycling Association and the New York Gauchos youth basketball program.

Also in the Norwood News, Gregory Lobo Jost, expands on his recent piece on Bronx Matters picking apart assertions of south Bronx gentrification, explaining why a few hundred white people over a decade, not to mention arugula, yoga studios, and farmers’ markets (which Norwood is home to) do not equal gentrification, and why its reckless to assert that they do.

Capital New York takes a detailed look at the complications for racial coalition building that are brought by Bronx/Manhattan state senator Adriano Espaillat’s challenge to Congressman Charlie Rangel. The latest reality TV show “about oversexed thirtysomething bachelors who still live with their mommies” takes place in the Boogie Down but is probably not an image that will please Bronx boosters.

Fresh Direct Opponents and Armory Activists Hit the Streets Tonight

21 Mar

Activists in the south and northwest Bronx are taking to the streets this evening to make their voice heard on two development projects — the Kingsbridge Armory and Fresh Direct respectively.

As Bronx Matters reported yesterday, the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition will be rallying in front of the Kingsbridge Armory tonight at 6 p.m. to call for living wage jobs at the massive landmark, schools in the National Guard building behind the armory, and the creation of space for small businesses and community use

Development proposals are due this week for the Kingsbridge Armory (Photo: J. Moss)

The event takes place at the corner of Reservoir Avenue and Kingsbridge Road. Daniel Beekman at the Daily News reports that a development tea called the Kingsbridge National Ice Center seems to be favored by local politicians like Councilman Fernando Cabrera.  More on the rally here.

Activist Harry Bubbins protests the Fresh Direct deal outside the State of the Borough Address in February. (Photo: J. Moss)

South Bronx activists and supporters from other parts of the borough are headed to the upper west side of Manhattan to launch a boycott of Fresh Direct, which is set to build a facility in the Harlem River Yards with an estimated $130 million in taxpayer subsidies. Opponents object that public money is being used to support an effort that they say will deliver more truck traffic to an asthma-prone community and block efforts to build the Harlem River Greenway. More info from the press release after the jump.

Back on Road to Armory Redevelopment?

20 Mar

The Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition will be rallying once again to bring good jobs and community uses to the Armory. (Photo by J. Moss)

Yet another chapter is beginning in the two-decade old development saga at the Kingsbridge Armory. Proposals for the facility are due in later this week and whether this latest try at reimagining the landmark will stick and work is anyone’s guess. The Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, which has been laying down its visions for the Armory since the late 1990s is holding a rally there tomorrow night at 6 p.m (corner of Kingsbridge Road and Reservoir Avenue). They’re calling again for living wage jobs and also for community space, opportunities for small businesses and no big-box retail. All that stuff got a little buried in the push last time around for what ended up mainly as a living wage campaign. That fight successfully buried the mayor’s proposal for a Related shopping mall at the Armory (a la Gateway near Yankee Stadium) as a new borough president, Ruben Diaz, Jr. got in front of an organized, union-backed campaign. The Council defeated the mayor’s plan handily, which is a real rarity in land use issues.

I’ll have a lot more to say about this as I’ve been covering the Armory since 1993 when District 10 Superintendent John Rehill wanted to see a massive complex of public schools there right after the National Guard handed over the keys of the head house and drill hall to the city. In the meantime, if you’re interested, here’s a link to a bunch of stories (67 actually) about the Armory that I and other wrote for the Norwood News, and my detailed take on what was going on at the time the Council defeated the mall plan.

—Jordan Moss

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