Sunday, June 24, 2012

Skating Venues Proposed for Two Vacant Armories

An ambitious proposal to convert the Kingsbridge Armory  into the world’s largest ice sports center, and a plan to turn the vacant Bedford-Union Armory in Crown Heights into a roller skating rink, have been submitted and are under consideration by the city. The privately funded projects will cost more $1 billion and create thousands of sorely needed construction jobs.

Kingsbridge Armory (Bronx)

A group of developers and educators submitted a proposal to the city for the world’s largest ice sports center.

The proposal, backed by Rangers legend Mark Messier and Olympic skater Sarah Hughes and Deutsche Bank executive Kevin Parker, features nine indoor rinks and includes the possible acquisition of land north of the armory for an ice sports-themed public school.

The proposal has earned the ears and praises of local council members, the community board, and Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.

Murray Beynon, who led the Madison Square Garden renovation, will design a privately funded $400 million renovation of the armory with five rinks on the ground floor, including a center rink with 5,000 seats, four rinks on the mezzanine and one outside. Locker rooms and parking would be included for the ground floor.

The Kingsbridge proposal was submitted to the city in March. Other bidders include a plan to bring a church and shops to the 500,000-square-foot landmark, and Vornado Realty Trust may bid to buy or lease it.

The Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition and the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance, which defeated a shopping mall plan for the site three years ago, will rally and pray for community access to the armory, jobs at the armory that pay living wages and a new school.

The city is expected to select a winning bid as early as next month.

Bedford-Union Armory (Brooklyn)

The Kingsbridge Armory is not the only former military facility that could become a skate haven.

One of the proposals being considered for the vacant Bedford-Union Armory in Crown Heights is to convert it into a roller skating rink to replace defunct Empire Roller Skating Center, which survived in the neighborhood for 66 years.

The National Guard is transferring ownership of the historic Bedford-Union Armory to the city and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz has pledged a total of $1 million in funding for redevelopment of the 105-year-old building. Besides a roller skating rink, other proposals include bringing in a community recreation center or an entertainment venue.

Comprising a full city block in Crown Heights, the shuttered Bedford-Union Armory between Union and President Streets has a lot of potential.  Money for operating the armory would come from building apartments on the site of its one-story parking facility. The property will need to be rezoned for this to happen.

Other uses for the Drill Hall are a multipurpose community recreation center for sports ranging from basketball to badminton, or an events and entertainment venue.

A makeover of the Park Slope Armory, which the report called “a great success,” could serve as a model for the Bedford-Union building’s rehab.