Politico New York reports on the uncertain financial status of the mega ice-skating palace planned for the Kingsbridge Armory’s redevelopment.
In the latest Kingsbridge Armory status update, the Norwood News recently reported that the Kingsbridge National Ice Center (KNIC) will receive a $30 million loan from Empire State Development for its first redevelopment phase of the massive landmark facility. The Armory will become the largest ice-skating center in the world, with nine rinks. Completing the initial phase of work is scheduled for April 2017. That’s more than 20 years after initial debates and activism were launched to plan the armory’s future.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.