Hochul and Adams’ stand-up performance at Armory isn’t really going to help the Bronx

Only one thing can explain Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams’ tag-team plan to bring the Bronx’s decades-empty Kingsbridge Armory back to life.

Apparently they want to take advantage of the comedy gap created by the Hollywood writers’ strike.

Unfortunately, her stand-up performance this week was anything but funny.

The imposing medieval armory has lain stranded like a stranded leviathan in the bustling heart of the Bronx since 1969.

Hochul and Adams announced that the delay was over and that the state and city would each put up $100 million to “fund” the “adaptive reuse” project.

But who are they kidding? Sure, $200 million is an attractive win for a developer willing to take on the job.

Politicians are clearly wanting to avoid an earlier debacle when a plan for a “National Ice Center” — exactly what the Bronx never called for — wasted nine years while a venture led by former New York Rangers star Mark Messier did the trick couldn’t raise money.

But the treacle-laced schedule for the armory’s revival suggests the whole idea is a joke.

A call for proposals from private developers interested in taking over the site is due next month, with plans to be submitted by the end of the year.

The state and city will each contribute $100 million to the Armory's Adaptive Reuse project.
The state and city will each contribute $100 million to the Armory’s Adaptive Reuse project.
Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

That’s certainly warp speed by Big Apple standards.

However, a winner will not be determined until the end of 2024. The project, whatever it may be, may not be complete until 2027.

The financial incentive is illusory.

The developer selected must earn the $200 million with inevitable gifts and concessions to the “community” and organized workforce that may not be worth the effort.

Any sale or lease of the Armory must be approved by the City Council, as conversion to commercial use requires, among other things, a change in zoning.

say your prayers

In 2009, the local council, even crazier than it was 14 years ago, rejected a sensible proposal for a multi-purpose, multi-storey complex backed by the Bloomberg government by a vote of 45 to 1.

It would have brought hundreds of jobs to the neighborhood with high unemployment. But project developer Related Companies could not afford to be pressured over union demands on wages and labor rules, which council members backed.

The same outcome is likely again, even with highly qualified Economic Development Corp. President Andrew Kimball leading the Armory initiative.

Kimball has brought fame to the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Industry City in Sunset Park.

But in the Bronx, he must navigate a most intractable minefield of mad left-wing politicians, sluggish city bureaucrats, greedy union bosses and community arsonists.

The winning Kingsbridge Armory developer proposal will not be selected until late 2024.
The winning Kingsbridge Armory developer proposal will not be selected until late 2024.
Tomas E Gaston

At the press conference, they made their priority clear: “well-paid union jobs”.

The same goes for Hochul and Adams, who are seeking union support.

The tyrants will once again join forces with community “activists” to thwart any commercially viable proposal in the armory.

Equally disheartening are the state and city’s “guiding principles” for transformation, which include such awakening imperatives as “prioritize youth,” “maximize common property,” and “create jobs and prosperity for existing workers and communities” — which could soothe local demagogues arouse but no confidence that a developer could make a dime.

It’s a pity that the city doesn’t want to or can’t use the armory productively in the short term. When asked about housing migrants there, Hochul said it was not feasible for unspecified “environmental issues.”

That sounds scary, like decades of neglect and decay have rendered the place toxic.

Good luck to any developer brave enough to tackle it — and good luck to a Bronx neighborhood that needs all the help it can get.


DUSTIN JONES is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. DUSTIN JONES joined USTimeToday in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with DUSTIN JONES by emailing dustinjones@ustimetoday.com.

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