Monday, April 29, 2013

Bronx Armory to Become World's Largest Ice Skating Complex

The colossal Kingsbridge Armory, a turreted fortress in the Bronx that has sat vacant since 1996, will be transformed the world's largest indoor ice center. The announcement by Mayor Bloomberg came as no surprise, as the ice center plan won the support of local officials last year. With the support of celebrities like Olympic figure skater Sarah Hughes and pro hockey player Mark Messier, the Kingsbridge National Ice Center will host nine year-round ice rinks, an outdoor rink, 12 retail shops, plus 50,000-square-feet of community space. The $275 million project is expected to create 890 construction jobs, with groundbreaking to take place in 2014. 

The first phase of the development—five ice rinks and the community space—will be complete and operational by September 2016. The second phase will take an additional year.

The developer, KNIC Partners, founded by Kevin Parker, has privately invested into the project. It's all expected to be completed in 2017 and create nearly 500 permanent jobs.

Now, the fun stuff: what this 750,000-square-foot ice center will have. All nine rinks will be indoor regulation size, and usable for national and international hockey tournaments, figure and speed skating competitions, and ice shows - including one that can seat 10,000 people.

Five rinks will be on the main floor, and four will be on two elevated platforms 40 feet above the main level. At least two of the rinks will be usable for sled-hockey for people with disabilities. The center more than doubles the number of indoor ice rinks in NYC. Presently  there are only seven rinks in the city and none are located in the Bronx.

In addition to the rinks, there will be dressing rooms, lockers, retail space for sports goods, parking for 480 cars, and a wellness center with off-ice training fitness, rehabilitation, sports therapy programs.

One of the community programs will be run by a KNIC foundation that will host free after-school hockey and skating, as well as academic tutoring. The developer guarantees that 51% of jobs would go to Bronx residents and will provide opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses, as well as free ice time to Bronx public school students.