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High Line on a Roll

High Line on a Roll

The Wall Street Journal 7/20/2011

By ERICA ORDEN

For those who like to roll and rock, an 8,000-square-foot roller-skating rink, complete with nighttime deejays and “old-school” wheeled rental skates, is opening next week beneath the northernmost open end of the High Line.

The rink will be one of the only roller venues in the city, and the concept, capping Section 2 of the elevated park, is intended to spark use of a historically desolate patch of Manhattan, said the High Line’s executive director and co-founder, Robert Hammond.

“We wanted to do something that would activate the neighborhood,” which is “going to change dramatically” with the development of Hudson Yards, Mr. Hammond said.

The rink will be situated in a 40,000-square-foot temporary public plaza at West 30th Street and 10th Avenue that the owners, the Related Cos. and Abington Properties, have donated to the High Line through September. The plaza recently was home to “Rainbow City,” an installation of inflatable sculptures, and it continues to host an outdoor beer and wine bar.

New York was once home to a handful of roller-skating rinks, but most have shuttered in recent years. While RollerJam USA remains open on Staten Island, closures include Skate Key State and Dance Family Center in the Bronx, in 2006; the Empire Roller Skating Center in Brooklyn, in 2007, and the Roxy NYC, once known as the “Studio 54 of roller rinks,” in Chelsea, in 2007.

Mr. Hammond said he had fond memories of the Roxy, adding that a High Line staff member met her husband there.

When it opens July 28, the High Line rink will offer traditional-style roller skates for rent, in part because they’re easier for inexperienced skaters to handle than in-line skates, but also to “bring back that old feeling of people who grew up going to roller-skating rinks for birthday parties,” Mr. Hammond said.

Designed by architecture firms Diller Scofidio + Renfro and James Corner Field Operations, with input from HWKN, the rink, which will remain open through Sept. 26, carries a price tag of just less than $100,000. The High Line is footing the bill, with additional expenses paid for by the apparel chain Uniqlo.

Admission is $12.