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Diaz, Jr. rips Related’s environmental statements

Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. took a swing at Kingsbridge Armory developer The Related Companies on Friday, October 9 in a retort critical of environmental impact statements released by city consultants.

Diaz Jr., who issued a “no” recommendation on Related’s planned armory shopping mall in September, when the developer turned down his community benefits agreement, condemned the city and its consultants for a poor Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and an inadequate Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).

In his “no” recommendation, issued post-DEIS, the borough president raised concerns related to traffic and neighborhood businesses. But the FEIS, released on Thursday, October 1, failed to address those concerns, Diaz Jr. said.

It appears that the city has granted Related an easy ride; whether it has done so because Mayor Michael Bloomberg favors Related or because its consultants are indolent, the borough president is unsure, he added. In his September 9 retort, Diaz Jr. listed problems with the DEIS and FEIS.

The city and Related have yet to perform a market study, and therefore are ignorant of how the armory mall would affect neighborhood businesses and the Fordham Road business corridor, the borough president said.

Rather than compare the planned mall and its potential traffic to River Plaza in Marble Hill, the consultants used Willets Point, an undeveloped neighborhood in Queens, and The Plaza at the HUB, a not yet built office and retail building, Diaz Jr. said.

The DEIS and FEIS foresee horrendous traffic at University Avenue and West Kingsbridge Road, and ignore how the planned mall would affect traffic on Van Cortlandt Park South, the borough president said. The DEIS and FEIS also fail to account for how the planned mall would affect the BX1 and BX2 buses, which run up and down the Grand Concourse.

The borough president urged Related to offer abundant free parking at the planned mall. Related charges for parking at its new Gateway Center mall on River Avenue. It plans to build 400 parking spots at the armory.

Consultants hired by Morton Williams Supermarket, a member of the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance opposed to a new supermarket in the planned mall, have also railed against the DEIS and FEIS. Related has defended the statements.

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