Theses Master's

Crown Jewel of the Bronx or Nail in the Coffin? Assessing the City’s Public Visioning Process for the Kingsbridge Armory's Redevelopment and Buy-in for Community Ownership in the Northwest Bronx

Shore, Matthew Malik

This ethnographic research seeks to better understand whether certain vulnerable community members in the Kingsbridge Heights neighborhood of the Bronx, BIPOC small businesses and street vendors specifically, were included and valued during NYC EDC’s Together for Kingsbridge public visioning process, the first-ever City-led public visioning process for the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory, the world’s largest armory. The research also seeks to understand whether community ownership of the Kingsbridge Armory, the Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition’s (NWBCCC) top priority for the property, is a goal shared by local and citywide elected officials as well as community members and stakeholders besides the grassroots, community-based advocacy organization itself. The embedded research follows the journey of various community members in the Northwest Bronx from June 2022, months before the public visioning process, to just after what was supposed to be the last public workshop for public input on March 18, 2023, concluding with organizing work in April 2023, prioritizing the expertise of a working-class community of color that I, the researcher, happen to come from.

Amongst a list of takeaways from a complex place and moment in time, the findings show that NYC EDC has insufficiently engaged with BIPOC small business owners and street vendors both prior to the public visioning process and during it. The findings also show that while community ownership of the Kingsbridge Armory is supported by most facets of the Together for Kingsbridge Community Working Group, by the end of the public visioning process, there was no support from elected officials in Kingsbridge Heights, the Bronx, and city at large.

This labor of love, co-produced by my neighbors in the struggle, is for people in the community ownership movement, especially those organizing for community land trusts (CLTs), shared wealth and governance, and community stewardship of underutilized neighborhood assets in communities of color in the US, and it's for people concerned with the qualitative side of the issues at hand with BIPOC small business and street vendor displacement. Organizers in New York who will have to deal with EDC in the future or who want to reflect on their engagements in the past, will also find this research to be useful. This is also for those who believe in the power of embedded planning and anyone concerned with community development in the Bronx.

Additionally, it’s for people interested in urban ethnographic analysis in planning, particularly those interested in understanding the intimate ways by which communities organize and respond to transformative economic development plans and those concerned with the political complexities at play - before and throughout - such planning projects. Lastly, this will, hopefully, serve to inspire other low-income and working-class BIPOC leaders from disadvantaged communities of color that aspire to become planners themselves one day, a necessary departure from a field - academic and in practice - that is generally occupied, managed, and envisioned by the affluent.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Dublin-Boc, Jenna L.
Degree
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
August 9, 2023