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Bronx Task Force Tours Vacant Armory

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As the battle over how to redevelop the Kingsbridge Armory continues, members of a recently formed task force toured the nearly 100-year-old structure Wednesday in hopes of generating a new round of proposals. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Junior is trying to move forward with his goal of redeveloping the massive Kingsbridge Armory. A 10 member task force he recently put together took a look deep inside the the landmark structure Wednesday hoping for visions of a master plan.

"We have heavy hitters there like Kathryn Wylde of the New York Partnership, Jack Rosen who is an international developer. So we have the folks here who have the relationships and networks to get something done here," Diaz Jr. said.

This past December, Diaz Jr. convinced the City Council to shoot down Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to have a private developer construct a $310 million mall inside the armory. Opponents argued retail jobs paying only the minimum wage wouldn't benefit the community. One of the most outspoken was Desiree Hunter, who is now running for the State Senate.

"And what we want to do now is work with everyone and be totally inclusive and collaborative with any one and everyone that can come up with a plan that benefits everybody," Hunter said.

After touring the long vacant armory, the task force knows it won't be easy redeveloping a nearly 100-year-old building that's larger than Madison Square Garden.

"Everything is on the table and nothing is off the table. So I think with all these individuals on the task force we can come up with something that is going to favor most of us. We are not going to agree on everything, but we can certainly come up a with plan that we can say we can live with it," said Community Board 7 Chairman Pail Foster.

"The space is enormous. So there is a place for retail, for manufacturing. Space for new businesses and new offices," said economic and environmental consultant Majora Carter.

But after battling with the mayor, it's now up to Diaz Jr. and his task force to come up with a plan that the mayor's economic development corporation will support.

"This is their property right now, so if they were not open minded to the task force, we probably wouldn't have gotten in today. So I want to thank them for that," Diaz Jr. said.

Members of the task force say they plan to meet in the next few weeks to have a discussion about what they saw at the site and perhaps come up with some initial plans for what can be built.

In the meantime, the clock is again ticking at the vacant armory, as it has been for more than 15 years.

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