Bronx Councilman Urges Council to Kill Armory Plan

Photo by: Jordan Moss
The Armory has been the focus of development battles since 1993.

Fernando Cabrera says he still hopes to support the plan to build an ice sports center in the historic Kingsbridge Armory, but has concerns about traffic and funding.

By: Kate Pastor

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.

  • margaretbx

    It’s ridiculous that Cabrera is standing in the way of a project that has such broad support in his district and beyond. The fund to which he refers is dedicated SOLELY to supporting the efforts of local businesses to expand and improve. Every penny of it will be used for that purpose. So what is he REALLY trying to accomplish here?

  • lothisoft

    Councilmember Fernando Cabrera is staging a mob-style shake-down of the developer. It looks like the councilmember is trying to funnel money to one or more “non-for-profit”, the typical Bronx-style theft of funds by elected officials. He has been working on this ever since the negotiations of the community benefits agreement started. Look at older drafts of the community benefits agreement to see what outrageous things him and his cronies have asked for. Why do you think the old Community Board chairperson Paul Foster placed himself on the oversight board just before he stopped being the chairperson.

  • fast marty

    so he was “for” it, before he was “against” it?