Redevelopment of historic armory in the Bronx moves forward

August 8, 2023

Photo courtesy of Darren McGee/ Office of Governor Kathy Hochul on Flickr

Plans to redevelop the historic Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx have been revived after nearly three decades of discarded plans. Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday said a request for proposals will be issued next month to develop the landmark, which was built for military use in 1917 and has been largely vacant since the 1990s. In addition to a combined $200 million investment from the city and state, Adams and Hochul unveiled the “Together for Kingsbridge Vision Plan,” which includes the goals of the project as envisioned by the community and local stakeholders. With proposals due by the end of the year, construction could begin in 2027.

Photo by Jim.henderson on Wikimedia

Designed by architect Lewis Pilcher in 1917, the Kingsbridge Armory has over 570,000 square feet of floor space, making it the world’s largest armory. The massive structure was used by the U.S. military until 1994 and the city took over ownership of the building in 1996. The armory was designated as a city historic landmark in 1974 and entered into the National Register for Historic Places in 1982. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the armory served as a temporary food distribution center, and in 2022, was used by local officials to store supplies for residents impacted by the Twin Park North fire.

The building features several unique spaces, including the striking headhouse entrance, the 115-foot-tall column-free drill hall, the basement mezzanine, and the 200,000-square-foot basement level.

The city had previously issued two RFPs that failed to advance, with the most recent plan calling for the world’s biggest ice-skating facility. Plans fell through in 2016 when the project’s developers failed to meet financing deadlines, according to BronxTimes.

“Time and time again, promises are made, grand plans unveiled, and you said you’ve heard it all,” Hochul said on Tuesday. “There was going to be schools, there was going to be shopping areas, workforce development, world’s largest indoor skating rink – and none of it happened.”

The governor added: “It is a new day. I do understand any skeptics though. But never before has there been this unprecedented collaboration between the City, State, and community in pursuit of one vision.”

This latest vision is the result of a nine-month engagement process that reached roughly 4,000 people through public workshops, tours of the armory, board meetings, and discussions. Through this process, community members expressed the need for the project to prioritize youth, welcome older adults, foster intergenerational relationships, create jobs, grow the local economy, and put “Bronx on the map.”

Community members also identified preferred industries that would attract major investors to the armory, including film and television, sustainable manufacturing, emerging technology, and urban agriculture. Other uses of the armory include vocational training and small business incubator, retail, food and beverage uses, community gathering, arts and culture space, and recreation and health.

According to officials, the redevelopment will improve the quality of life for Kingsbridge Heights residents, create thousands of local jobs, and deliver up to $10 billion in economic impact to the Bronx.

“Our vision is focused on providing opportunities for surrounding neighborhoods, because what good is it to build this structure if we don’t have a plan for the neighborhoods that’s around this structure? That is what our vision is going to do,” Adams said.

“This can be the anchor for the Bronx. We get this right here, it can cascade throughout the entire borough, with employment opportunities, education, supporting local businesses, local jobs, and promote local economic growth.”

The city’s Economic Development Corporation will issue a RFP for the redevelopment project next month with proposals due by the end of the year. Andrew Kimball, the president of NYCEDC, said he expects several strong bids from developers to be submitted.


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