BRONX, N.Y. (PIX11) — A big empty building in the Bronx has been the site of big plans and big promises for decades.
The Kingsbridge Armory is called “The Castle” by many people.
Everyone wonders about its future.
A renewed effort between neighbors, community groups, elected officials, and the city has produced a community vision plan. Future plans are taking another step forward.
In the next few weeks, the NYC Economic Development Corporation will release the official request for proposals.
Fernando Ortiz is from the South Bronx and a borough director with the NYC Economic Development Corporation.
“For me, it’s about seeing the spaces that were abandoned become activated by the people of the Bronx, for the people for the Bronx, and with people from the Bronx,” Ortiz said.
He’s leading tours for neighbors, leaders, and business representatives as the project takes the next steps.
On Sunday at 1 p.m., neighbors and community groups will gather at the armory to mark the milestone.
“This is the first time we have seen this kind of community engagement for the development,” Juan Nunez, who lives nearby and has been focused on the future of the armory with the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition said. “We were able to get union jobs, benefits, and community ownership. It is a regenerative economy with values that reflect the work we have been doing.”
The vision statement focuses on jobs and economic development for the neighborhood and the Bronx.
“The goal of this is to create as many community resources as possible while creating jobs, meaningful sustaining jobs,” said Ortiz.
Neighbors are hopeful and they will be watching as they contribute to the next step of the process.
“This could be the nail in the coffin for gentrification. We want to stop that from happening and make sure there is nothing that hurts the small businesses, jacks up the rent, or pushes people out of the neighborhood,” said Nunez.
The armory rivals the size of Madison Square Garden. A 5-story building could fit inside the main hall. It also has three underground levels. It needs major infrastructure, utility, and environmental work.
Film/TV production, agriculture, technology, and manufacturing have been identified as industries that would be a good fit. During the process, community priorities and community ownership have been an essential part.
Next year, the proposals are due, and they will be reviewed. A plan could be announced by 2025. Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams have each pledged $100 million in funding for the eventual development during an event in August.
The Kingsbridge Armory has been vacant for years and has been used recently for film and media productions. It was a food distribution center during the pandemic.
It was built in 1917 to train soldiers and store supplies. It operated as an armory through the 1990s.