New York City Releases RFP for Redevelopment of Kingsbridge Armory

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The New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is seeking proposals for the latest shot at the redevelopment of the 570,000-square-foot Kingsbridge Armory, a vacant, landmarked building featuring a 103-foot-tall open drill hall and dramatic medieval-style battlements at 1 West Kingsbridge Road in the Bronx.

The city and state have pledged $200 million of capital funding in the form of grants for the project, and an additional $50 million may also be available from other public sources, according to the request for proposals (RFP) released Sept. 22. 

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Developers may propose a triple-net ground lease for the property lasting up to 99 years, pending final negotiation with EDC after an independent appraisal. The EDC also said it’s seeking a plan that will include 25,000 square feet of space to be subleased to a community organization at a discounted rate, striking a balance between the needs of the nearby community and the potential for the armory to become an economic engine for the entire borough.

The future construction manager will be required to enter into an agreement with labor unions, according to the RFP. 

The formal request comes a little over a month after the EDC released its “Together for Kingsbridge Vision Plan,” a compilation of nine months of research and public engagement with community members and Bronx residents. The sessions were designed by frequent EDC collaborator Hester Street, while WXY Studio conducted site assessments and test fits in anticipation of the RFP.

Mayor Eric Adams announced the vision plan for the site in August and sounded optimistic when he told members of the press gathered inside the cavernous drill hall that the redevelopment would finally happen and create up to 1,800 jobs.

“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,” Adams said in August.

If it feels like déjà vu, it’s because adaptive reuse plans for the armory have failed repeatedly under a succession of mayors going back to 1996, when what was originally a storage site and training ground for the National Guard was decommissioned and handed over to the city.

In 2008, Related Companies pitched a $310 million plan to turn the armory into a shopping mall, but that was short-lived. The New York City Council voted against the plan after labor unions and community groups insisted that economic development projects on city-owned land should pay workers a living wage, going against then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg who backed Related’s plan.

A new plan conceived in 2012 under former Mayor Bill de Blasio and backed by six-time Stanley Cup champion Mark Messier would have transformed the armory into a massive indoor ice rink called the Kingsbridge National Ice Center. 

The proposal included a commitment to pay future employees a living wage, a provision that won support from labor unions. However, the ice center plans slowly melted over the following decade after the developer failed to get the necessary financial backing.

Adams and his pick to head the EDC, former Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball, are hoping the third time is the charm. 

“We are serious about the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory,” Kimball said in a statement Monday. “And we want this historic structure to not only remain a symbol of resiliency, but become an economic engine for the Bronx.”

Developers have until Jan. 18, 2024, to respond to the RFP.

“After a long redevelopment journey, including failed attempts and a restart of community engagement, I am excited to reach another milestone,” New York City Councilwoman Pierina Sanchez, a co-chair of the Together for Kingsbridge working group, said in a statement.

Abigail Nehring can be reached at anehring@commercialobserver.com.