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CBA talks for Kingsbridge Armory bid underway

Bronx Times

One of the two developers bidding for the landmark Kingsbridge Armory is mulling a community benefits agreement by a coalition of neighborhood groups.

A CBA is key to winning community support for the project, though the city has final say.

Representatives from the proposed Kingsbridge National Ice Center, a massive ice skating center and 5,000-seat arena, met Jan. 29 with coalition members.

Led by the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance, the group presented what would become a legally-binding CBA.

With roughly $20 million in earmarks, the CBA would require the developer to include:

• 80,000-square-feet of community space in the Armory.

• Hiring locally.

• Funding for a new school and park renovations.

KARA crafted the contract with help from Community Board 7, offering recommendations in early January.

“The CBA is a product of more than 17 years of combined research and expertise from the KARA constituency,” said Alice McIntosh, head of a KARA, a grassroots group working under the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition.

Adding a bit of intrigue to the meeting was KNIC’s “anxious” urgency to meet with KARA, said McIntosh. “It’s a big change from eight months ago,” she said.

Meanwhile, KNIC’s rival - Young Woo & Associates - is also prepared to discuss a CBA. Adam Zucker with YWA said his group would sign a CBA “that is in line with the original Request for Proposal.”

YWA’s plan, dubbed Mercado Mirabo, would be an entertainment hub featuring a 4-D movie theater, basketball courts and weekend vendors.

Board 7 chair Paul Foster and Greg Faulkner, chief of staff for Councilman Fernando Cabrera, both attended the four-hour Jan. 29 negotiating session with KNIC.

Cabrera has always called on developers to okay a CBA, a move backed by Borough Hall.

“Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. supports a CBA,” said spokesman John DeSio, who did not elaborate. The BP threw support behind KNIC’s project last August after the group agreed to a $10.50 “living wage.”

Cabrera is still undecided on which project he backs, an endorsement that carries weight in the City Council, which will make a final decision once the city Economic Development Corporation picks a developer.

ABC’s of CBA’s

CBA’s work as contracts that may or may not hold legal ground. They have no impact in talks between developers and the EDC. But they are critical to winning the community’s hearts and minds.

One of the borough’s bigger community benefit packages came during the Adolfo Carrion administration and the building of the new Yankee Stadium. A $28 million CBA was worked out, including $100,000 a year to maintain parks around the stadium, along with the distribution of 15,000 free tickets.

Board 4 was not at the negotiating table, and turned down the new Yankee Stadium plan. Four CB4 members were soon dismissed by Carrion.

KARA and CB7 Unite

The alliance between KARA and CB7 was surprising to some quarters, given some longstanding friction between the two groups. Tensions started in 2009 when the two were at odds over the re-development of the armory by the Related Companies, a plan eventually killed in the City Council. But the two sides are now moving beyond their differences, said CB7 chairman Paul Foster.

“KARA is not an enemy,” said Foster. “We feel the community is more important than anything else.”

For an updated story on the Kingsbridge Armory, go to bxtimes.com.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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