The developer has not agreed to a socially equitable Community Benefits Agreement. I cannot understand why the developer would not act in good faith with The Bronx and the City as a whole, by not considering the needs of the community. The provisions in the proposed Community Benefits Agreement are both fair and negotiable. Among the most important disagreements with the developer is their refusal to assure living wage provisions, defined by Local Law 38 adopted in 2002, as $10 per hour with health benefits. [The Economic Development Corporation] made it clear in the site RFP that it would favorably view development plans that maximize the number of jobs meeting the City’s living wage and health benefit standards. All the community wishes to do is to be a participant in what could be its greatest socioeconomic investment for generations to come.It may be hyperbole to suggest that the developer has not "consider[ed] the needs of the community," but Diaz also explains that his office received "significant correspondence" from residents concerned about the need for a CBA. And as he cogently points out, the goal of the planning review process should be "to assure that development of City-owned property and use of government subsidies benefit surrounding communities on whose patronage the financial feasibility of this project will depend."
Diaz gave a number of other reasons for rejecting the proposal:
- no market study was conducted to determine whether the proposed retail uses will be viable, or to determine what their impacts on existing retail establishments will be. "This is critical in terms of determining the best uses for the community and the impact on the surrounding area."
- there is no need for a new grocery store as there are other super markets within a half mile of the project site
- there has been no assurance that the redevelopment will include the siting of at least one school; nor has the developer agreed to include other education facilities (e.g., space for Lehman College or performance space)
- "No identification as to how the City plans to use the $5 million acquisition price or annual taxes, which I feel should go towards the development and maintenance of the community facility, and not to the General Fund."
- there is no assurance that the project's interior designs will be consistent with the armory's Romanesque architecture
- several transit, traffic and parking issues have not been adequately addressed