Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams are vowing to finally redevelop the long-vacant Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx, putting up a combined $200 million in public money to fund a new use for the massive complex.
On Tuesday, the governor and mayor announced that a request for proposals to redevelop the facility will go out in September, with responses from developers due by the end of the year. The state and city are each agreeing to pitch in $100 million to help fund the redevelopment project.
The announcement is sure to draw skepticism: The armory in Kingsbridge Heights, owned by the city’s economic development branch, has sat mostly empty since 1996 and has been the subject of numerous fits and starts from developers and politicians over the years.
One plan would have created a massive shopping mall at the former military facility, but it fell through amid a battle with local community members and unions. Another plan — backed by legendary New York Ranger Mark Messier, who traveled to Albany multiple times to push for public funding — called for the construction of a massive ice rink complex with a hip-hop museum, but that ended in a flurry of court battles after developers couldn’t secure private funding.
But Hochul vowed that this time will be different.
“We will not disappoint you again. We are not going to break your hearts. I don’t want hip-hop lyrics written about breaking hearts and bad things happening,” she said.
The request for proposals will seek new plans from private developers who want to overhaul the armory space. It will be up to developers to put forward a vision for the project and what types of businesses or civic spaces should occupy it, though Hochul and Adams suggested uses that emphasize entrepreneurship or industries like urban agriculture or the film industry.
“This could be the anchor for the Bronx,” Adams said, saying it has the ability to “become a beacon of employment, entrepreneurship and opportunity.”
The 14-page “vision plan” offers developers some guidance on what their pitches should center on — like spaces that “prioritize youth, create jobs and wealth for existing workers and communities and welcome older adults.
The funding from both the state and city will be in the form of grants — not loans. New York state had previously pledged to put up about $100 million for the ice rink complex, though it was in the form of a loan.
In her remarks at the armory, Hochul acknowledged the long stagnation at the site, noting that a someone born when the military vacated the facility in 1996 “may even have their own children today.”
“It is a new day,” she said. “I do understand any skeptics, though. But never before has there ever been this unprecedented collaboration between the state, the city and the community based on one vision.”