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City urged to approve plan to turn Kingsbridge Armory into ice sports center

City urged to approve plan to turn Kingsbridge Armory into ice sports center

Daily News 8/24/2012

By TANYANIKA SAMUELS

Hailing it as a major opportunity for Bronx youth, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. called on the city to approve a proposal to turn the Kingsbridge Armory into a state-of-the-art ice sports center.

Diaz was flanked by New York Rangers legend Mark Messier and Olympic figure skater Sarah Hughes outside the armory on Thursday.

“We are urging the Economic Development Council and the Bloomberg Administration to hear the Bronx out, to hear our voices,” Diaz said.

“We stand in unison to say ‘Please select (this) proposal so we can redevelop the Kingsbridge Armory as soon as possible.’”

The Kingsbridge National Ice Center (KNIC) would include nine hockey rinks, a 5,000-seat arena, 50,000-square-foot community space that would be open to area groups, and an education program for local youth.

The project would bring an estimated 1,800 construction jobs and create about 200 permanent jobs that will pay a living wage, borough officials said.

“This development will allow our borough to realize the potential of the Kingsbridge Armory and to do so in a way that will offer the people of the Bronx a chance to earn a decent living,” Diaz said.

“(The ice sports center) will open a new world of possibilities for the future generations of young people in the Bronx,” Messier said. “This project is not just about building rinks, it’s about creating opportunities for the kids in the Bronx.”

Hughes added that she couldn’t wait to see the faces of local youth light up when they hit the ice.

“It’s about time that this borough has a place for kids that have Olympic dreams on the ice,” she said.

The ice sports center is one of two final proposals for the long-vacant fortress on W. Kingsbridge Road.

The West Village firm Youngwoo & Associates proffered a project called “Mercado Mirabo” that would include a 4D movie complex and a town square-style market for local restaurants and businesses.

In a statement, company officials said they were “very surprised and obviously disappointed” by the borough president’s endorsement and defended their plan as the option that would “offer the most significant benefits to the surrounding community and all the residents of The Bronx.”

The Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance (KARA), a coalition of community, religious and labor union leaders, has been pushing for a plan that meets the community’s needs.

“It was very exciting to hear KNIC’s commitment to 100% living wage jobs and their commitment to community space,” said Alice McIntosh of KARA. “That’s definitely a positive step in the right direction. We’re looking forward to hearing more.”

A decision by the city could come as early as next month.

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