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City Council Stands Up for Living Wage, Shuts Down Armory Project

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • John Petro Policy Analyst on New York City and State Affairs

In a vote that could affect how future economic development deals are negotiated in New York and across the country, the New York City Council voted to reject the proposed redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx. With this vote the Council establishes a new benchmark for city-sponsored development projects: projects that receive public tax subsidies must create living wage jobs for New York City residents.

Last week, the Drum Major Institute released a report that shows why the Kingsbridge Armory project -- without a guarantee that future retail tenants would be paid a living wage -- would have been a financial drain on the city. In addition to the cost of providing tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks, the city and state would have also been forced to subsidize the project again by providing food stamps, Medicaid, and other assistance to retail workers at the Armory who would not otherwise be able to make ends meet on poverty-level wages.

Moving forward, two City Council members, G. Oliver Koppell (D) and Annabel Palma (D), have introduced legislation that would require all future economic development projects create living wage jobs. This groundbreaking legislation would build off of the successful efforts of Minneapolis and Los Angeles to create living wage jobs in economic development projects.

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