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Kingsbridge Armory will be $2B boost for borough, supporters say

New York Daily News
September 11, 2013
By Jennifer H. Cunningham

The planned Kingsbridge National Ice Center will generate nearly $2 billion in economic benefits for the city, its developer claimed this week.

KNIC, the group that is set to turn the vacant Kingsbridge Armory into a 750,000-square-foot ice palace, released its economic snapshot and Community Benefits Agreement less than a week before members of Community Board 7 will consider the project.

“We’re on the cusp of creating a new economy for the Northwest Bronx,” said Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition and the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance.

“For lack of a better word, it’s a game changer.”

KNIC says the $320-million center will generate more than $1.7 billion in economic benefits to the community across the 99 years of the lease.

The community benefits agreement requires that at least 51% of employees be Bronx residents and be paid at least $10 per hour with benefits or $11.50 without.

The community will receive 1.5% of the ice center’s annual revenues, or $276 million over the 99-year lease. And the community will enjoy free ice time, worth nearly $589 million.

“It’s enormous,” Jonathan Richter, president of KNIC Partners, said of the economic impact. “We were surprised when we started looking at the numbers.”

The planned 50,000-square-foot community center inside the ice rink would have cost $224 million over the life of the lease. The community will get to use the space for free.
“It’s a combination of a performance venue and a community facility,” Richter said.

“Coupling those two together made it a robust economic engine for the city.”

Richter stressed that the ice castle will have priceless side benefits, too, such as better health for the community, and an increased likelihood that today’s Bronx youth could end up playing professional hockey.

“The immeasurable community benefits … were somethings we couldn’t put a price tag on,” he said.

Mayor Bloomberg selected the developer for the center in April, but CB7, the Bronx Borough President and the City Council have to all sign off on the lease.

The ice center will boast nine indoor ice rinks, and once completed, the facility will be the largest of its kind in the world. It’s expected to open in 2017.

Controversy has been limited.

“This project means our next generation will not have to suffer from the same vicious cycle of poverty this community has known for years,” said Rev. Que English, senior pastor of Bronx Christian Fellowship Church and a member of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition. “This project is a beacon of light that will be part of the revitalization of our borough.”

The borough’s main hockey organization, the Bronx/Harlem FD Hockey League currently has to go all the way to Mount Vernon in the Westchester suburbs to find ice time.