Bronx Councilman Urges Council to Kill Armory Plan

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The Armory has been the focus of development battles since 1993.

Photo by: Jordan Moss

The Armory has been the focus of development battles since 1993.

Councilmember Fernando Cabrera spoke out against the Kingsbridge Armory plan during a City Council hearing Thursday.

After voting for the project at the Nov. 1 Bronx Borough Board meeting and expressing hope that his concerns would be allayed by the time the issue comes up for a City Council vote, he asked his colleagues to vote “no,” according to people present at the hearing.

Then, he concluded by with his hope that he can still come to the support the plan before the vote.

When it comes to weighing in on development issues, City Council members often defer to the local councilmember, which is Cabrera in this case.

However, it is unclear whether they would follow his lead in a “no” vote, especially in light of recent news that Cabrera tried, as part of the Community Benefits Agreement arrived at last winter, to negotiate $100,000 a year for Community Action Unlimited, a group he has ties to and which lost its nonprofit status in 2010.

At the hearing today, Cabrera said he has lingering concerns over traffic and parking asked why a fund for community organizations would be overseen by Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance and why money couldn’t go directly to local businesses.

“I just want this project to be done right,” Cabrera said, once-again expressing hope that they could come to an agreement before the vote.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. for the first time directly addressed the potential opposition, saying, “A vote in the opposition, in my opinion to this project, would be reprehensible.”

Councilman Oliver Koppell, of the neighboring district, said he was floored.

“I think it’s shocking that he’s not in full support of this project,” he said. “And I’m hoping that it will be approved next week.”

Diaz said it was “apples and oranges” to compare the traffic impact of the ice center project to the concerns about traffic that accompanied a failed 2009 plan to develop the Armory into a mall. He also said his concern for local businesses is illustrated by his support for this project over a retail project that could cannibalize local businesses.