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City Council Nearing Deal on Bronx Armory

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Members of the City Council and Mayor Michael Bloomberg say they’re just days away from a deal on how to turn the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx into a shopping mall.

Officials from both sides say that retailers at the mall would get subsidies in exchange for paying their employers a "living wage."

A "living wage" in this case is $11.50 an hour, or $10 an hour with benefits. If retailers opt into the system they would use subsidies on their rent payments that would be taken from a fund that the city is to set up.

The fund would come from the sale of the armory, which would amount to $4 million or $5 million, and rental income from space in the armory that was set aside for community facilities. This should total about $1.5 million a year for the next ten years. Legislators are not sure how they will maintain this "living wage" fund after 10 years.

Mayor Bloomberg, at a press conference Wednesday afternoon, said, "We are making progress, we’re still talking, and we’re confident the council will approve it in the coming days."

The vote in the City Council's Zoning and Franchises Committee, originally scheduled for Wednesday, has been postponed until Friday. If approved, this would be the first instance in New York City where a publicly subsidized project was required to pay employees a living wage.

For more details and background, listen to Matthew Schuerman's feature here.

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