NEW YORK -- The new year will bring a big decision for the northwest Bronx.
The city will choose a development plan for the historic Kingsbridge Armory.
There's excitement, but also anxiety.
It says "Development property for sale" on a simple sign that's creating complications for 12 small business owners who lease space across from the armory.
"Twelve businesses are at risk of eviction," activist Matthew Shore said.
The mom-and-pop stores worry they will be swept away as developers eye sites near the armory. The city has committed $200 million to fix up the 600,000 square-foot armory. Proposals are being submitted and one will be chosen in 2024. Ideas include a convention center and a film production studio.
In August, Mayor Eric Adams touted the potential.
"This could be the anchor for the Bronx. We get this right here, it can cascade throughout the entire borough," Adams said.
Community activists don't want to see unbridled development that would raise rents and push out mom and pops. They want protections for small businesses, including those across from the armory, all of which operate month to month, without long-term leases.
Not having a lease impacts a small business in many ways, including making it more difficult to apply for a loan, or a government grant.
"I cannot invest. I cannot improve the quality of my service," said Howard Narine, owner of Pace Copy Shop. "The developer selling this site told me he's not evicting anyone, and has actually reduced some rents to help businesses stay afloat."
Narine said the next owner might not be as accommodating.
"Anyone in any circumstance would not want to be kicked out of anywhere," Narine said.
Activists say long-awaited development of the armory neighborhood has to make room for the mom and pops who've been holding down the fort.
The borough president said she's working to strengthen groups that support small business, to advocate for them as Kingsbridge develops.
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