Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Boots on the Ground Armory Reaction

The Daily News ran an opinion piece by president of the National Hispanic Business Group and owner of Tri-Line Contracting Corporation, Jose Velazquez, decrying the Council vote against the redevelopment of the Armory. It's worth the read.

Here are some key excepts:

"Maybe those type of demands [living wage] make sense in an ivory tower, not in the real world. In the real world, it meant the economics of the project simply didn't compute. In the real world, it meant the project couldn't survive.

I don't know who won this fight, but I do know who lost: Our people lost. We lost more than 2,200 yet-to-be-created jobs. And we lost ancillary jobs that go beyond this project."

AND

"This armory has been vacant for more than a decade and was long seen as a beacon of hope for new economic opportunity. With the Council vote, it will likely remain empty for decades longer as a painful symbol of how political grandstanding can keep poor neighborhoods impoverished and local residents out of work."

Here's the entire piece:

Grandstanding on Kingsbridge Armory Costs Bronx Jobs [Jose Velazquez, Daily News]


~ErLu

28 comments:

Ryan said...

After decades as a wasted space a plan was finally in place to create over 1000 permanent jobs; yet the plan was defeated with our own borough president's words, "No jobs are better than minimum wage jobs".

I spoke to a friend in southern Indiana, another place like so many which is desperate for development, desperate for minimum wage jobs. How does one rationally explain the City Council's decision to cancel jobs here, in the lowest-employed district in the country?

I've read the many comments on this blog from previous posts and I'm still floored that anyone could reject this development opportunity. If minimum wage isn't good enough for you- look elsewhere. Meanwhile hundreds would gladly take a minimum wage job, and yes, use it to pay the phone bill. How else will our unemployed pay the bills in future years while the Armory continues to be empty?

Guywithacause said...

Hopefully this tide of discontent, resentment, and anger will swell and be a tsunami toward the inept, incompetent, grandstander extraordinaire Ruben Diaz. In addition, I hope it becomes a recurring theme to crush any ambitions he may have of re-election, or worse, Mayor of the city.

Ruben has done a great disservice to the residents he purports to represent, as he has chosen to grandstand and chant, rather than be practical, creative, a problem-solver, and try to achieve an agreement. There is no plan B, there never was...so we will sit with an abandoned site, no jobs, no services/amenities, nothing...while Ruben tries to convince us all we are "winners." Sorry Ruben...we are LOSERS..and it is thanksto you and the usual Bronx politics at its worst.

Anonymous said...

If you accept the arguments advanced in this section --

"But Council members insisted that all future employees of the new armory development be guaranteed a higher wage - one that the private market simply couldn't support. They saw this promise as a fair tradeoff in return for the public subsidies the developer, Related, would receive.

"Maybe those type of demands make sense in an ivory tower, not in the real world. In the real world, it meant the economics of the project simply didn't compute. In the real world, it meant the project couldn't survive."

-- on their face, then the Council made an outstanding business decision. If a retailer looking to enter a long-term lease at a high-end mall can't afford to pay a few hundred employees an extra $2-3 above minimum wage, they don't belong in that space to begin with.

Or maybe they're being completely, utterly, and shamelessly disingenuous about their business model, and they're afraid to acquiesce on the living wage provision because it would set a precedent for future projects.

Either way.

Mayor said...

In summary:

My sources tell me that Related could not finance the Kingsbridge Armory deal. Apparently they used the Living Wage issue as the scapegoat – easy way to break out of the deal. There is also speculation about Related's ability to finance the West Side Yards project.

When Related saw that a deal was imminent on the Kingsbridge Armory, it asked Mayor Bloomberg to pull it off the table. Without the agreement the City Council had no choice but to reject. Bloomberg then vetoed the City Council rejection to signal his concern.

However, after vetoing, he did not pick up the phone and try to lobby the small number of votes he needed to prevent being overridden. He also did not attempt to negotiate during the days between the veto and yesterday’s final vote.

Deputy Mayor Robert Lieber certainly had good intentions leading the negotiations with the Bronx delegation of the City Council. However, he was forced to pull the agreement off the table by Mayor Bloomberg. Related could not finance the project as it’s already stretched thin by the economic crisis.

The City Council was almost unanimous in the initial rejection of the project after Mayor Bloomberg put a roadblock in the way. After the veto, the Mayor had ample opportunity to present a compromise (which had already been agreed upon) which would have certainly gotten the 17 votes needed for the veto to stand.

The Bronx delegation supported the compromise that was negotiated with Deputy Mayor Lieber. Mayor Bloomberg then pulled it off the table.

Guywithacause said...

This is just rumors after the fact. I would need more credible evidence to support this theory.

Mayor said...

The fact that the Mayor pulled the plug is now public record - listen to the City Council transcript. His veto was just for show.

Guywithacause said...

Mayor I don't believe this story, but it is entirely possible it is true. WE DON'T KNOW.

Bloomy did what was ncessary, he tried for years to push this deal through, work towards an agreement, and ultimately vetoed the City Council. The past few years were not for show, and neither was his veto. There are always rumors after the fact, but as of now they are just rumors. What we KNOW is that the imposition of this living wage agreement ultimately killed the deal, thanks to Ruben and company.

As of now, I am maintiaining accountability squarely with Ruben Diaz until credible information surfaces.

paperpest said...

I remember before the primary watching a debate between Koppell and Cassino for the 11th Council seat and both agreed that you couldn't have a living wage agreement as part of the Armory deal. I have no recollection of B.P. Ruben Diaz taking a stand on this until about two weeks ago.

Mayor said...

Oliver Koppell was the single greatest proponent of the Armory development on the Bronx delegation. He will confirm that the Bloomberg administration torpedoed the project - not the Bronx delegation or the Borough President. The deal was on the table and then removed by the Mayor.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mayor:

News reports at the time said two things I'm not seeing in your account...

1) The Bronx delegation was not biting at the proposed deal, and

2) It was ultimately taken off the table by the City's Corporation Counsel, not the Mayor.

Is there some reason to believe these initial reports were incorrect?

Mayor said...

Dear Anonymous,

The City's council objected to one element of the deal - a $4-5 million fund seeded by the City's proceeds of the Armory disposition. This idea was originally proposed by Bronx delegation member Joel Rivera who was instrumental in developing the compromise.

The concept itself was sound but the "source" of the fund was not. Alternatives were proposed that solved that issue by sourcing the funds differently.

An agreement was on the table which key members of the Bronx delegation helped to develop and negotiate. Other aspects of the Community Benefits Agreement were also fleshed out and agreed upon.

Mayor Bloomberg pulled the plug angering the Bronx delegation that negotiated in good faith and reached a deal.

Anonymous said...

So, ummm, Mayor what about the City's lawyers' opinion that the proposed deal violated the law???

You tell a nice story, but it doesn't seem to fit the facts that have been reported...

Where are you getting your info that contradicts previous news reports???

Guywithacause said...

I too would also like to know how Bloomberg is the one that killed the deal. Bloomberg has been pushing this deal for YEARS, publicly and privately. Only when a living wage requirement entered the picture did the problems begin, which was not recommended or suggested by Bloomberg. Ruben Diaz became the mouthpiece for the living wage agreement, and laid it out quite clearly, that NO deal would happen without a living wage. The City Council then voted this proposal down, which the Mayor then vetoed. So again, NOT Bloomberg.

Please state your sources, because it is more likely that that Ruben Diaz, and a host of other Bronx scheisters are trying to assign blame through whispers and made-up rumors so they can play the usual blame-game.

The Mayor of Melrose said...

I have to disagree with the lot of you in many ways. i have insider information that unfortunately I cannot reveal the sources but there were many problems with wanting to convert it into a mall number one being that the location was not VIABLE due to traffic which is bursting at the seems already and is heavily congested. an already 15 minute trip from the highway due to navigating on a congested road would have been a nightmare. The living wage was not a scapegoat.

Another factor was that it really does not make SENSE at this point in time to create yet another mall within such a short distance from the Gateway Center and then to consider that there's a mall right across the river in Spanish Harlem as well. Economically it would not be viable at this point in time for ANYONE. I have a lot of friends on the inside and the fact of the matter was that these 1,000 jobs where theoretical jobs at the very least because no major retail chain had expressed public interest in the project unlike the gateway mall which before it was even being constructed, big retailers were jockeying for space in there. At this point in time it was not the case for the Kingsbridge Armory. From an urban planning point of view which is a very realistic and important view to look at it from, the proposed use as a retail mall was not the highest and best use for the mall. Now that being said, there IS a plan B and what Ruben Diaz, Jr is currently proposing is a much better win win situation for both the bronx and the city as well.

this is a real visionary and ideal plan for the armory:
http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/bronx/2009/12/22/2009-12-22_beep_diaz_mulling_new_life_for_armory.html

Guywithacause said...

Mayor you are basically backtracking from your previous comments. You indicated, as most people have, that the traffic and other concerns could be easily worked out, and were not the main issue. It was in fact the living wage issue that was the primary concern (Or at least ahd become the primary concern). All of the issues you are bringing up now were NEVER deal breakers, and nothing new, as they have been hashing those issues out for a few years.

All of this came to a grinding halt AFTER the living wage agreement came out of thin air. Had Related agreed to that living wage agreement, this deal would have been closed, and Diaz and company would have taken all the credit.

What we have now are excuses and after the fact finger pointing, which are standard with politicians...keep those fingers pointed away from them.

And although I agree that a "green" future is a good idea, as of now it is an IDEA, and nothing more, NOT a plan. What does this mean? It means we are starting AGAIN from scrtach, MANY more years of a vacant Armory, and ZERO guarantees that any of it will come to fruition.

If we are to believe Ruben Diaz: A-We are winners because we defeated the "evil/racists/greedy/white" Related, and their "made-up" jobs/retail/services and B: We are winners because he has an idea of doing something "green" with the Armory, which may or may not happen at some undisclosed time in the future.

So what do we end up with after all this? A plan B? Nope...an IDEA. We weren't lacking for ideas by the way..we have had them for decades for the Armory..we were lacking strong leadership and action...which with Diaz we don't have...just the usual Democratic grandstanding for votes. What we wanted and needed was a productive use for an abandoned site, and now we have nothing, again. Oh sorry, I take that back..Ruben Diaz has "ideas." Great...it took us how many years to get nowhere with Related? How many years/decades do you think it will take before we also get nowhere with Diaz's "ideas?"

Winners, we are not...no many how many "ideas" Diaz has.

janeblaz71 said...

I would like to know when BBP Ruben Diaz said the following:
"We are winners because we defeated the "evil/racists/greedy/white" ... the comment suggest this was a direct quote???

Actually, its the racist pieces of human trash who think all welfare recipients in the vicinity of the Armory need to get up off their asses instead of waiting for a check who make up statements like the ones above as direct quotes from the mouth of Ruben DIAZ.

Funny, the people killing Palestinians over on the Gaza Strip think they have a God appointed "cause" too...give it a rest already...the Related project is DEAD for reasons other than the living wage provision.

Stop acting like such a loser please. Find another self serving cause.

The Mayor of Melrose said...

Guywithcause: you are confusing me with the person who is posting here as MAYOR.
I am a different person who just responded to the post late in the game so your responses are rather irrelevant to my post especially saying that I was backtracking. The proposal for a Mall by related was just an idea as well because there were NO CONCRETE RETAILERS signing on board to join the Mall
so what we would have had was millions spent on a "mall" with no one shopping there.

To place the blame in such a fashion on Ruben Diaz, Jr as you are is pretty dramatic rhetoric....grandstander extraordinaire?

The traffic issue was something that could not be simply overlooked...are you familiar with the geographic location of the area and how the streets are mapped? Take a look at the immense traffic flow that Gateway Mall has added to Melrose which has wider streets and easier access to some highways and add that to the Kingsbridge area where the streets are narrower and extremely congested already and you would have a traffic NIGHTMARE...the area already is a nightmare to navigate during business hours can you imagine doing so with a mall there?

Mayor said...

Janeblaz71 - the only people responsible for Palestinian deaths is the Religious militant group called Hamas. And Jane, why don't you post messages asking why women's rights have disappeared from the Gaza Strip? Please keep this discussion to the armory debate alone.

Regarding the armory, Mayor Bloomberg's PR machine is spinning the story and the media is repeating it. For proof that a compromise solution was pulled off the table by the Mayor, simply call Joel Rivera or Oliver Koppell and ask them point blank.

janeblaz71 said...

@Mayor...I meantioned Gaza for a specific reason...please backtrack to previous posts and you will most certainly understand why I mentioned that specific "cause". Womens rights is another issue all together.

As far as Mayor Bloomberg is concerned, he is the grandmaster of all things sit and spin. I still say we can use the space for a Trader Joe's and other retailers...and as far as traffic is concerned, if there are worthwhile markets in the armory, people will use public transportation...especially if there are recreational activities and a cultural center of some sort. What we do not need is ANOTHER footlocker, lanebryant, ny&company or anything of that nature. Whole Foods would definitely attract folks from all over as well. A bookstore is needed in the area too.

It's not over despite what others may think. There was a rush to get related in there due to personal affiliations and connections. Hopefully, folks will learn from their mistakes, take us seriously next time around and give Bronxites the respect we deserve.

Anonymous said...

Jane, Are you referring to your earlier anti-Semitic comments?

Guywithacause said...

I may be confusing the Mayor of Melrose, the Mayor, and Mayor Bloomberg! Although traffic was a concern, again, this was not a deal breaker and they were moving past that.

What is happening now is the usual blame-game, smoke and mirrors that politicians are so adept at. They are skilled at passing the buck and keeping themselves "clean."

So we are to believe the imposition and demand of the living wage amendment was NOT the reason this deal died? I am to believe that Ruben Diaz, who demanded the living wage amendment, and recruited all of his political lackies in other boroughs, and turned the city council against this deal, was NOT the reason this deal died? We are to believe that this living wage agreement was, as Rube Diaz claimed, non-negotiable and a eal breaker, was NOT the reason this deal died?

Sorry folks, what's happening now is an abandonded Armory for several more years (best case scenario), no plan B, and politicians looking for cover. Nothing more. You are free to believe the rumors/innuendos/misinformation to keep you confused and the blame away from Ruben Diaz and company, but I ain't buying it for one second.

He can keep his "ideas," what we need is ACTION, accountability, and production, non of which Ruben is capable of. But hey, if you want to race-bait, assign the Bronx's problems on outside entities, and grandstand for votes, Ruben Diaz is your man.

Let's see how long it takes before his "green ideas" become a plan..if ever. That Armory deal is dead, I accept that...but I will not fall for the smoke and mirrors routine.

The Mayor of Melrose said...

Do you believe that the people do not deserve a decent, living wage? is this what you are saying? What is wrong with Ruben Diaz, Jr fighting for a decent wage for the people of The Bronx who for longest have the lowest per capita income in the city??? I don't think that it is fair to blame the man for fighting for better wages for the Bronx. Not having decent living wages is an insult to the people of The Bronx and says that we are not worth the pay.

janeblaz71 said...

@anonymous @11 ish.
hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha...you're funny...tsk tsk tsk anonymous. TRY HARDER than your head next time.

@Mayor of Melrose
I can answer that question for you but I prefer that you feast with your own eyes on what some of the people with "causes" have to say about this issue. Refer back to this particular post...http://boogiedowner.blogspot.com/2009/12/rip-shops-at-armory-and-2200-jobs-along.html.

As far as some folks are concerned, welfare recipients need to get up off of their asses and fetch a pail of cotton and a minimum wage job...people from OUTSIDE of the Kingsbridge community knows whats best for the community...the know-it-alls must also know what its like to live in poverty...the know it alls are killing the armory because there will be no other takers save for Bloomberg and his peeps. It's quite an interesting read.

Please do take a look see...you will be amazed at the ignorance and defeatist mentality.

Guywithacause said...

Mayor of Melrose: I absolutely agree that Bronx residents should have a living wage. However, this is not the way to achieve that.

The Armory was never meant to solve the world's problems, nor poverty in the Bronx. These retail jobs as part of the Armory were going to pay the SAME wages they do across the rest of the city. However, for some reason, Ruben Diaz believes that those jobs should pay XXX amount and be a "livable wage" because "we deserve it." What's the reality? These jobs were never meant to support a family of four, a big mortgage, vacations, 2 cars, and private schools.

The bulk of people who work these jobs are NOT head of households with kids, and were never meant for them. But Ruben believes that these jobs should do XYZ...why? Well because he says so...they must solve the Bronx's low wage problems. Who set the bar so high? This was not about solving the Bronx's problems, it was about providing jobs. Period.

But even more bizarre is how he teamed up with other 'local' businesses to impose this living wage agreement. These other businesses DON'T pay a living wage, and never will..they pay minimum wage...but somehow that doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that 99.9% of the rest of the jobs pay the same low wages for retail positions...there's no problem there and they are all saints and valued members of the community. It's just this Armory redevelopment that should pay the higher wages because our residents "deserve it." Well since we "deserve it" why aren't all these other businesses paying the same living wage...don't we "deserve it?" Strange ay?

The bottom line is this...Ruben Diaz wants a hand-out. Why do I say this? Because these jobs pay the same amount across the city, but in the Bronx, Ruben says NO..we want XXX amount, and if we don't get it, well you can shove it. That's a hand-out and extortion...so it got shoved alright....right up Ruben's a$$.

You want to solve the problem of the generational poverty in the Bronx. The ONLY way to do that is to educate the population, and acquire the skills necessary to EARN a higher wage. Only then will the population be EMPOWERED and break the generational poverty that is suffocating our borough. It is not simply demanding XXX dollars per hour because you say so. It is the job of our elected officials to provide us the resources and opportunities to get the education and skills, and then bring the higher paying jobs to the community.

What Ruben is doing is the same thing every incompetent, smoke and mirrors Bronx politician does. He has a poor, uneducated, unskilled population, and instead of insisting that we get education, and acquire skills that pay a higher wage, he blames the world for not giving us what we "deserve." And THAT is why the Bronx has suffered generations of poverty...it's not our fault (they say), we are the victim, it is this reason/that reason/this company/that mayor that has caused us to be poor because they don't "give us what we deserve."

That has never been the answer, we know that after 30 years of it in the Bronx. What we need is a politician who reinforces education as the answer and demands us to get it, we need a politician that expects us to acquire skills to earn a higher wage so we can EARN it, and not because we "deserve it", and we need an elected official that will BRING the higher paying jobs WHEN THE POPULATION CAN SUPPORT IT, and not expect us to get paid a Doctor's salary when we have neither the education/skills for it, but somehow we "deserve it."

If you believe in the mentality of "we deserve" when we neither have the education/skills to earn it, then Ruben has suckered another Bronx resident into keeping the Bronx poor, and keeping himself in power.

Mayor said...

Post all youveant abou the BP. The fact however is that Bloomberg pulled the deal off the table. The deal included an educational component which we all agree is important. It also covered the other CBA items. The Living Wage has taken a life of it's own now and will affect all future subsidized developments. Bloberg should have let the deal stand.

Guywithacause said...

Mayor still waiting for evidence as to how Bloomberg pulled the deal. You are simply spreading false rumors at this point. Hey let's blame the Toothfairy too...I have "sources" that say since they did not want to provide dental insurance, the Toothfairy pulled the plug. I cannot reveal those sources.

Mayor said...

Guywithacause - I'm cracking up. We probably agree on more than we disagree on. However, on this issue I'm 100% sure on my sources. Simply call Joel Rivera and Oliver Koppell and ask them. They will confirm that a deal was agreed upon after being negotiated by Deputy Mayor Lieber. Mayor Bloomberg then pulled the deal. The speculation is that Related wanted to back out since they would have difficulty funding now.

And insulting the toothfairy is like insulting your mother. :)

Enough of all of this. I wish all of you a wonderful holiday season. And let's all hope that next year will be a better one for the Bronx and that we can all be on the same team.

Guywithacause said...

Agreed Mayor! 2010 will be a better year for the Bronx!