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My Opinion Piece in City Limits: Kingsbridge Armory Ice-Rink Plan Ditched After a Decade of Inaction

3 Mar

3.3.22 — Almost 30 years after first writing about the Kingsbridge Armory’s potential redevelopment, I went at it again thanks to failure of the crew that got city approval to build nine ice-hockey rinks there. That was in 2012. Zilch has happened since. Read more in my City Limits piece below.

After 8 Years of Nothingness, Armory Ice-Rink Plan Ditched

17 Dec

Dec. 17, 2021 …. Breaking News (really, I’m not kidding!): After almost 30 years of fits and starts (and a lotta stops) on the future of the Kingsbridge Armory, the plan the city, and its chosen developer, got the OK on has been officially and legally ditched.

Almost exactly eight years ago — on Dec. 10, 2013 — the future of the historic site was handed over to KNIC (Kingsbridge National Ice Center) a group that was planning to turn the armory into a home for nine ice skating rinks, particularly for hockey teams, and 50,000-square-feet of space for local nonprofit community organizations. (The armory — the biggest one in the world! — is over 520,000 square feet.)

But virtually zilch has happened since.

So, earlier today, wondering where the heck things were at long after after KNIC took on the project, I wrote to the city agency responsible for the program: the Economic Development Corporation (EDC). This was their breaking-news response:

“We are disappointed the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory — a centerpiece of the Kingsbridge community — has been set back but we look forward to working with the community to rethink the uses of this historic building.”

And referring to a recent legal ruling that led to their disappointment, EDC added this:

“In a recent decision, the First Judicial Department of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York agreed with New York City Economic Development Corporation that KNIC did not provide the necessary evidence of financing for the ice center project at Kingsbridge Armory by the required deadline in 2016.  Therefore, the project will not be proceeding. We are disappointed that KNIC has been unable to realize the financing for the project, despite continued efforts since the 2016 deadline.”

It’s been almost 30 years since I and the Norwood News first covered the armory (see photo below), when the state handed it over to the city. The paper covered it relentlessly over the next few decades. That had an impact on helping get the empty historic facility some attention from local politicians and city agencies, as did the relentless activism of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition.

But now that we’re back where it all started, it needs much more media and political attention, like if the Park Avenue Armory on Manhattan’s Upper East Side suddenly went empty. No one wants another freakin 30 years of this (or even 5 or 10!). Let’s get it on the top of our elected officials’ priority list and make them focus on what the community wants and needs. —Jordan Moss

The state of the Kingsbridge Armory was covered by the non-profit Bronx community newspaper, the Norwood News,
from 1993 to 2013 and beyond.
Photo by Jordan Moss

Tibbetts Brook Needs Daylighting

15 Dec

Dec. 15, 2021If you missed the New York Times article last week about Tibbetts Brook, mostly covered over in Van Cortlandt Park a century ago, and the efforts for it to be daylighted, you can check it out here. What the remnants of the Hurricane Ida disaster did in September to 87/Major Deegan, in the Bronx and beyond, kind of spelled out why daylighting the buried Tibbetts Brook isn’t just an effort to make it look nice. More critically, it’s to help prevent what is otherwise certain to result in more natural disasters. To learn more, there is an Environment and Sanitation Committee & Parks and Recreation Committee meeting of Community Board 8 in a few hours on Zoom at 7 PM (Wed., Dec. 15). Here’s the link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2114033690. And here’s the info for connecting by phone: +16465588656 Passcode: 2114033690# .

The morning after Hurricane Ida. View on bridge over Deegan on West 238th St. in Bronx. Photo by Jordan Moss

Kingsbridge Armory’s Endless Stall

18 Oct

It drives me a little nuts, everytime I walk or run by the Kingsbridge Armory. 

I first wrote about it in 1993; community organizers and activists with the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition got involved soon thereafter; and after many starts and stops and Mayor Bloomberg’s heavily defeated proposal to make a mall out of the giant joint (more than 500,000 square feet!) without  a promise of a fair wage for workers, a group that adhered to a fair-wage deal finally got a plan saluted and signed by all sides. Named the Kingsbridge National Ice Center was going to be nine ice skating rinks for pro-hockey, and locals too. But the last word I found was in 2017 here and here. It’s been six years since there was a “deal” in 2014. Argh!!!!

Kingsbrige Armory. Where is it headed? Photo by Jordan Moss

A Diner/Restaurant at Former Van Cortlandt Library Site? (Bronx)

6 Dec

OK, people don’t complain to me about this. I never hear anyone say, “Oh, I wish we had a good restaurant on Sedgwick Avenue.” But I think of it every darn time I walk on the block and I’ve got a vibe that many locals reading this will agree, or have their own suggestions for what we need on the block (it literally is just about a block, maybe even less).

The thing I think about most is that there are many elderly residents in this area. Yet, aside from a pizza place, there isn’t a single restaurant they can easily walk to and have breakfast, lunch or dinner. And if there were a diner, or some good breakfast/lunch joint, that would benefit everybody.

Here’s where it could be … where the Van Cortland Library used to be (they’ve moved to a beautiful new building on Cannon Place).

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Whether you agree with this or not, I think we all agree that we need something good and useful here, and we should try to figure out what is most wanted by Van Cortlandt Village and Kingsbridge Heights neighbors. So, what do you think? Just comment below and I’ll repost what you’d like to see. Thanks!

-Jordan Moss

What Should We Do With Van Cortlandt Library Space?

21 Apr

DSC_1084.jpg

Van Cortlandt Library on Sedgwick Avenue will soon be leaving this space for a new, larger site on Cannon Place. What should replace it? Photo by Jordan Moss

This is a photo of the current Van Cortlandt Library, but it will only exist for another couple of months. The one that will replace it is twice as large, allowing more, and separate, rooms for kids and adults. And from the photo I saw of the design, it’s infinitely more attractive. It’s being built right now on Cannon Place. It should be open by the end of summer. Fingers crossed.

But in the meantime, what should go in the old space? It’s for rent, and who knows, maybe for sale (phone number in photo).

Here’s what I think: it should be a diner or breakfast/lunch joint. Yeah, sure I’d also like a Thai or Indian restaurant or an art gallery or … a lotta stuff. But I really think that a diner wold benefit the most people in the vicinity. There’s no place for anyone to sit down for a quick breakfast or lunch before they get on the bus, or go to work at PS 95 across the street. And, except for the pizza place, there’s really no place for the elderly and people without cars to take a walk and have some breakfast, lunch or dinner. We all love pizza but not every single time we want/need to go get something to eat.

That’s my view. But I’m interested in yours. And if there’s a collective community view of what should be there, let’s all shout it out loud to everyone we know who could help spread word to business folks interested in what we are interested in.

-Jordan Moss

 

 

22 Days to Go: Biaggi Will Attend Bronx Town Hall Tonight for State Senate Candidates. Will Klein?

22 Aug

With only 3 weeks (+ a day) to go before the critical primary vote on Thurs., Sept. 13 for staten senator, in the 34th Senate District (and others all over the city), the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition is hosting a Town Hall tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Monroe College, 2501 Jerome Ave. (near Fordham Road) for Senate candidates interested in representing a few northwest Bronx districts. Alessandra Biaggi will be there. I heard that her opponent, incumbent Jeff Klein has not RSVP’d. Anyone interested in learning where candidates stand on many critical issues — health care, housing, schools, jobs, etc. — are welcome to attend.

Construction of Indian Restaurant in Kingsbridge Under Way

7 Aug

A store that was a grocery/deli on W. 238th St. and Broadway until a few months ago has been gutted, uncovering its beautiful brick walls. A worker there told me today that it’s going to be an Indian restaurant. That’s very cool because there’s been no such thing in Kingsbridge in a good long while (there was one on 231st Street for a little while after we moved here from Norwood in 2005).