After extensive public engagement, a new use is emerging for this historic 1917 armory to help revitalize a Bronx neighborhood

In Bronx, New York, the Kingsbridge Armory opened in 1917. It was used by the United States military until 1994, when it reverted to city ownership in 1996.

The armory was designated as a New York City Landmark in 1974, and placed on the National Register for Historic Places list in 1982.

More recently, during the COVID-19 public health crisis, the Armory served as a temporary food distribution center and, early last year, was used by Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson and local officials to store supplies for those impacted by the Twin Park North fire.

Now, on August 8, 2023, New York Governor Kathy Hochul, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York City Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Andrew Kimball, and other community leaders unveiled guiding principles for the Together for Kingsbridge Vision Plan.

The plan outlines next steps for a regenerative process that will include the redevelopment of the historic and long-underutilized Kingsbridge Armory to help economically revitalize the Bronx.

Rooted in community priorities and drawing on growing industries, the vision plan focuses on creating family-sustaining, local jobs and improving the quality of life for residents of Kingsbridge Heights and neighboring Bronx communities.

After years of dwelling on the history of the Kingsbridge Armory, we are finally looking ahead to its remarkable future,” Governor Hochul said.

I know how critical the future of the Armory is to this community and to the entire borough of The Bronx, which is why I prioritized locking in $100 million in State funding that will allow this transformative project to move forward. Working with local leaders and our partners in the City of New York, the Kingsbridge Armory will anchor this neighborhood, address longstanding community needs, and boost the local economy and I anticipate a project labor agreement to create good-paying union jobs at this site as we work to bring this project to fruition,” she added.

Backed by a $200 million investment by Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams, the plan will inform the release of a request for proposals next month for the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory — the largest armory in the nation — providing guidance to interested private partners on what the community and NYCEDC will look for in a future activation.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “Kingsbridge Armory has a storied past, and now – finally – a bright, community-focused future. Thanks to the personal commitment and public investment led by Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams, Bronx residents can look forward the Armory being a long-overdue source of economic opportunity and development for both the neighborhood and the entire borough.”

The redevelopment effort — which could deliver over 1800 jobs, including 1100 construction jobs, and up to $10 billion in economic impact to the Bronx based on initial estimates — also builds on Mayor Adams’ Rebuild, Renew, Reinvent: A Blueprint for New York City’s Economic Recovery, which prioritized creating jobs and economic opportunities for the Bronx.

Representative Adriano Espaillat said, “Today’s announcement of the ‘Together for Kingsbridge Vision Plan’ culminates a nine-month community engagement on how best to reimagine redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory, a beloved and treasured iconic symbol for all who call the Bronx home. My constituents have long supported transforming the Kingsbridge Armory into an economic engine to uplift our community, and today, through a collaboration between stakeholders, federal, city, and state officials, we are moving forward with the most transformative economic project that the Bronx has ever seen that will bring good-paying jobs and labor standards that will support working families and help them thrive. I commend New York Governor Hochul and New York City Mayor Adams for their significant contributions to the Kingsbridge Armory and all who worked to bring this visionary redevelopment plan to fruition.

The project also represents another example of close city-state collaboration outlined in the “New” New York panel’s action plan — investing in job centers with access to mass transit.

The vision plan also builds on several of Governor Hochul’s key economic development priorities, including strategic investments in infrastructure, workforce development, and 21st century growth sectors to support good, high-paying jobs.

New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said, “A community-led process to create the redevelopment plan for the Kingsbridge Armory is essential to a successful project that provides good jobs with local hiring and prevailing wages, while improving residents’ quality of life. Its guiding vision being determined through extensive community engagement of neighborhood stakeholders is important to achieving these shared goals. Through Council Member Sanchez’s leadership, the Council has been a proud supporter of a participatory process that centers the community’s priorities and we made $12 million in early capital investments to support these objectives. As this process moves forward, it will be critical to continue working with local leaders and stakeholders to realize a vision that reflects the community’s priorities. We look forward to continuing and deepening the partnership that helps reach this outcome.

Planning efforts for the Kingsbridge Armory date back nearly three decades and include two requests for proposals that failed to advance through the City Council or obtain necessary financing. Over the last decade, the armory has served as an emergency supply and food distribution center following Hurricane Sandy, at the onset of COVID-19, and after the Twin Parks fire.

Councilmember Amanda Farias said, “A huge and exciting day for the Bronx! Thank you to Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams for their monetary commitments to the Kingsbridge Armory and the Bronx. This is the largest armory in the United States and with that comes a plethora of economic and cultural opportunities to be had in this repurposed space. I look forward to supporting the RFP process and finding a hard working partner to meet the needs of our communities and make the armory everything it can be! Thank you to Council Member Sanchez and the NYCEDC team for your continued hard work on this project.

With community buy-in and a major commitment of public funding from Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams, the “Together for Kingsbridge Vision Plan” represents a practical and implementable path forward to redevelop the armory, create prevailing wage and union jobs,and deliver economic opportunities for community residents.

Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar said, “I proudly partner with Mayor Adams to foster economic growth in every corner of New York City, and today’s ‘Together for Kingsbridge Vision Plan’ is a milestone in revitalizing the Bronx. The plan fast tracks the Kingsbridge Armory’s redevelopment into a hub of good-paying jobs, economic activity, and vibrancy in Kingsbridge Heights. Following almost 30 years of inaction, Mayor Adams and the NYCEDC spent nine months engaging with over 4,000 people in the community. The workshops, surveys, Community Board meetings, tours, and small group discussions allow the Mayor to understand exactly what the community wants for the site. This will inform the RFP process so that the City transforms the Kingsbridge Armory from a vacant space into a beloved institution in the Northwest Bronx.

The “Together for Kingsbridge Vision Plan” is the result of an extensive, community-driven process that kicked off in November 2022 and included a series of public workshops and engagement opportunities designed to develop a shared vision for how this tremendous public asset can support the neighborhood and the community’s economic development priorities.

As part of the approach, engagement was guided by a “Together for Kingsbridge” community working group of neighborhood leaders, community-based organizations, key institutions, federal and state elected officials, and others — led by co-chairs New York City Councilmember Pierina Sanchez and Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC) Executive Director Sandra Lobo.

Councilmember Sanchez said, “The Kingsbridge Armory is a majestic, incredible structure that could be activated to deliver so much to our community and the Bronx. It could represent a catalyst for economic transformation in one of the neighborhoods hardest hit by the pandemic and that was already struggling economically prior to the pandemic. It could represent hundreds of good-paying, union jobs. I am honored to join the mayor and governor, our neighbors, and my colleagues in government to announce this $200 million investment. After nine months of deep community engagement, this announcement represents an incredible milestone in support of our collective commitment. As we prepare to release the community’s vision for Kingsbridge Armory, I am heartened by the strong foundation we are starting on.

The nine-month community engagement process reached over 4,000 people and consisted of:

  • More than 1,000 participants across four public workshops;
  • More than 900 survey respondents;
  • More than 500 community members touring the armory;
  • Nine community board meetings;
  • 16 small group discussions;
  • Three public information sessions; and
  • Feedback from more than 75 industry stakeholders on the armory’s potential.

In the engagement process, community members identified two key sets of priorities, which aim to shape proposals, for the future of the Kingsbridge Armory. The first is a set of guiding principles — actionable goals for the project in response to the community’s strengths and needs. The community’s guiding principles include prioritizing youth, welcoming older adults, fostering intergenerational relationships, creating jobs and wealth for existing workers and communities, growing a regenerative local economy, maximizing community ownership, and putting the Bronx on the map.

The second is a list of priority uses for the armory — outlining industries and potential activations that could advance the community’s economic development priorities. Within the priority uses, community members identified a series of preferred industries that would allow the armory to attract major private investment enabling the transformation of this public asset into a sustainable economic engine for local jobs and wealth. Those preferred industries include film and television, sustainable manufacturing, emerging technologies, and urban agriculture.

Along with the preferred industries, community members identified a set of complementary uses to provide equitable access to services and work opportunities for Bronx communities.

Those complementary uses include vocational training and a small business incubator; retail, food, and beverage uses; community gathering and organizing space; Bronx arts and culture space; recreation and health; and sustainable food systems. The community also stressed a desire for the project to hire local and union talent, sourced from Bronx-based businesses, and provide vocational training to residents.

Photo courtesy of NYEDC.

See NYEDC’s armory web page.

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