NY State, City Contribute $200M for Long Sought After Redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx
John Jordan | August 9, 2023
NEW YORK—If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again.
New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced on Aug. 8 that the redevelopment of the long vacant Kingsbridge Armory in the South Bronx will move forward with the release of Request for Proposals by the New York City Economic Development Corp. next month.
The latest iteration of plans to redevelop the Kingsbridge Armory, which first opened in 1917 during World War I, is estimated by city and state officials as possibly generating up to $10 billion in economic impact for the Bronx and more than 1,000 construction jobs, follows an extensive community-led process over the past nine months.
At a press conference, Gov, Hochul, Mayor Adams, New York City Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Andrew Kimball, and community leaders unveiled guiding principles for the “Together for Kingsbridge Vision Plan,” outlining next steps for a process that will include the redevelopment of the historic and long-underutilized Kingsbridge Armory, which has been vacant except for special uses since 1996 when the city took ownership of the property.
The Kingsbridge Armory opened in 1917 and was used by the United States military until 1994 before reverting to city ownership in 1996. The armory was designated as a New York City Landmark in 1974 and placed on the National Register for Historic Places list in 1982. For the past 27 years, the armory has been vacant, but was utilize during the COVID-19 public health crisis, served as a temporary food distribution center and, early last year, was used by Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson and local officials to store supplies for those impacted by the tragic Twin Park North fire.
The project site occupies most of the block bounded by West 195th Street, Reservoir Avenue, West Kingsbridge Road, and Jerome Avenue. The site is largely occupied by the Armory building that totals more than 570,000 square feet, including a 180,000-square-foot drill hall and an 8,000-seat auditorium.
“After years of dwelling on the history of the Kingsbridge Armory, we are finally looking ahead to its remarkable future,” Gov. Hochul said. “I know how critical the future of the Armory is to this community and to the entire borough of The Bronx, which is why I prioritized locking in $100 million in state funding that will allow this transformative project to move forward. Working with local leaders and our partners in the City of New York, the Kingsbridge Armory will anchor this neighborhood, address longstanding community needs, and boost the local economy and I anticipate a Project Labor Agreement to create good-paying union jobs at this site as we work to bring this project to fruition.”
Backed by a $200 million investment by the state and New York City, the redevelopment could deliver more than 1,800 jobs, including 1,100 construction jobs, and up to $10 billion in economic impact to the Bronx based on initial estimates, state officials noted.
“The Kingsbridge Armory is a tremendous public asset that is not serving the community. This project has the potential to unlock billions in economic impact for the city while creating over 1,800 good jobs right here in the Bronx,” said Mayor Adams. “And after sitting down with more than 4,000 Bronxites over the past nine months, we are proud to deliver their vision for the armory’s next chapter: a source for good union jobs and a beacon of opportunity for the Bronx.”
Since 1996 a number of redevelopment plans have been proposed, including plans for a large ice rink complex and a major shopping center. However, local opposition and financing issues skuttled all previous proposals.
The “Together for Kingsbridge Vision Plan” is the result of an extensive, community-driven process that kicked off in November 2022 and included a series of public workshops and engagement opportunities designed to develop a shared vision for how this tremendous public asset can support the neighborhood and the community’s economic development priorities.
The process resulted in the identification of preferred industries that community members believe would allow the armory to attract major private investment. Those preferred industries include film and television, sustainable manufacturing, emerging technologies and urban agriculture.
Community members also identified a set of complementary uses to provide equitable access to services and work opportunities for Bronx communities. Those complementary uses include: vocational training and a small business incubator; retail, food, and beverage uses; community gathering and organizing space; Bronx arts and culture space; recreation and health; and sustainable food systems. The community also stressed a desire for the project to hire local and union talent, sourced from Bronx-based businesses, and provide vocational training to residents.
The nine-month community engagement process reached over 4,000 people and consisted of more than 1,000 participants across four public workshops; more than 900 survey respondents; more than 500 community members touring the armory; nine community board meetings; 16 small group discussions; three public information sessions; and feedback from more than 75 industry stakeholders on the armory’s potential.
Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson said, “From the onset of our administration, we said we were committed to working with our community partners to reimagine the Kingsbridge Armory, and we are now one step closer to doing just that with the ‘Together for Kingsbridge Vision Plan.’ This vision plan is not only a labor of love but is the result of months of planning, collaboration, input, and support from various stakeholders dedicated to ensuring Bronxites have a say in the future of the largest armory in our nation. It is exciting to see so many of our residents, merchants, elected officials, and community leaders participate in this process as well as their shared interest in making this a space that can not only benefit Kingsbridge Heights but the entire borough. When advocates, elected officials, community leaders, and stakeholders come together with the same vision and priorities, our borough wins. Reimagining the Kingsbridge Armory is a tremendous win for the Bronx, our city, and our state. I want to thank Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams for their significant capital investment in the armory as well as the NYCEDC, my colleagues in government, our Deputy Borough President Janet Peguero, community advocates, and everyone else with a vested interest in transforming and revitalizing the Kingsbridge Armory.”
According to the NYCEDC website, the agency is conducting site tours on Fridays from Aug. 11 through Aug. 25.