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Kingsbridge Armory Closer to Becoming World's Largest Indoor Ice Center

By Gustavo Solis | November 7, 2013 9:14am
 The developer talked up a package of local perks before a community board votes on the project Tuesday.
Kingsbridge Armory Hearing
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KINGSBRIDGE HEIGHTS — The Kingsbridge Armory got a little closer to becoming the city’s largest indoor ice skating center Wednesday thanks to the City Planning Commission's unanimously approval of a massive $275 million renovation plan.

“This is an extremely important, transformative project that will not only reshape this historic structure, but will provide living wage jobs, recreation opportunities and community programming,” Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said.

Now that it’s been approved by the commission, the project has to pass the Bronx Borough Board and the City Council before getting to the mayor’s desk to seek final approval.

Kingsbridge National Ice Center Partners LLC, will spend $275 million to install nine year-round ice rinks, including one with seats for 5,000 spectators, inside the armory. The developer also signed a 99-year lease, officials announced in April.

The 750,000-square-foot complex will also include 50,000 square feet of community space, a wellness center and business incubator, free ice skating and tutoring for children and nearly 270 permanent jobs that pay at least $10 an hour with benefits, elected officials said.

“The project is enormously important for the Bronx and will transform the Kingsbridge Heights neighborhood," City Councilman G. Oliver Koppell said.

There are only seven year-round ice rinks in New York City and none of them are in The Bronx.

Roughly 20 local schools and sports programs have already requested ice time and the National Hockey League said visiting teams could practice there, Kevin Parker, founder of KNIC Partners LLC said during April’s announcement.

“There is so much unmet demand for ice in New York City that I predict we will be sold out before we even open,” he said.

Developers have agreed to provide living-wage jobs for local workers, targeted local hiring, opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses, and create a foundation to establish free after-school ice sports and academic tutoring programs for disadvantaged youth.

“We said right from the beginning that we can’t put a moat around this place and be an island in the middle of the community,” said Parker.