BRONX, NEW YORK, August 23- In front of the Kingsbridge Armory, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and a host of elected officials joined with New York Rangers’ legend Mark Messier and Olympic Gold Medalist Sarah Hughes to announce their support for the Kingsbridge National Ice Center proposal for the historic armory.
The Kingsbridge National Ice Center (KNIC) would bring a total of nine regulation hockey rinks to the Kingsbridge Armory, featuring a 5,000 seat showplace area as its anchor, making it one of the largest ice sports centers in the world.
The developers behind the Kingsbridge National Ice Center proposal have made assurances that all jobs created by the development will pay a “living wage,” that local hiring will be handled through the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, that more than 50,000 square feet of community space will be made available to area organizations and that an education program modeled after the successful Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation program in Philadelphia will be incorporated as part of the project. This LEED Gold, sustainable development is anticipated to bring $250 million in private investment to the northwest Bronx.
“Our borough is home to the greatest baseball team, and will see a top-flight golf course and state of the art tennis center take shape in our borough over the next few years. With the development of perhaps the greatest ice sports center in the United States right here at the Kingsbridge Armory, the Bronx will stand at the forefront of athletics for the entire region,” said Diaz. “Given the developers commitment to ‘living wage’ jobs, local hiring and community programming, it is clear that the Kingsbridge National Ice Center project is the right fit for our borough.”
“Winning the Stanley Cup with the Rangers was a tremendous moment in the history of New York hockey,” said Mark Messier. “But when the doors open for the first time at the Kingsbridge National Ice Center, it will literally change the sport, as well as New York, forever. With the world’s greatest ice sports facility right here in the Bronx, New York City is destined to be the proud home of countless NHL champions and Olympic gold medalists to come.”
“Becoming a champion figure skater has long been one of the few dreams you have to leave New York City to achieve,” said Sarah Hughes, 2002 Olympic Gold Medalist in Women’s Figure Skating and a partner in the KNIC development. “The Kingsbridge National Ice Center will mean a world of new possibilities for boys and girls in the Bronx and throughout the five boroughs. More than just skating rinks, this facility will offer incredible educational and fitness initiatives that will shape future generations in this community.”
“The Kingsbridge National Ice Center will transform this incredible piece of history into an awe-inspiring international destination and a source of pride for the Bronx and all of New York City,” said Kevin Parker, the founder of KNIC and partner in the project. “This project will create jobs and economic activity in the Bronx, support important community and educational initiatives, and provide New Yorkers with unprecedented access to a variety of spectacular ice sports.”
“Today's proposal proves that you can have responsible development in the Bronx which provides living wage jobs for New Yorkers and builds stronger communities. We are proud to have worked with the Borough President and the community to help pave the way for a Kingsbridge Armory redevelopment that will bring decent jobs to the area. It shows that when we work together there are real solutions to the challenges of building in this city in a way that benefits everyone,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.
"The Kingsbridge Armory has the potential to be an important economic engine for the surrounding Kingsbridge community as well as the rest of the Bronx. As a member of the community and a representative for the area, my major concern has been that regardless of the project, Bronxites and neighbors feel that the Armory is used by the community and that it brings good, well-paying jobs to local residents. I am excited to begin the next step in making our dreams for the Kingsbridge Armory a reality,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera.
"Once transformed, the Kingsbridge Armory will again be a vibrant center in the Bronx," said Jonathan Richter, a KNIC partner. "Through a diverse array of community programming, KNIC will help lead the way in improving academic performance and incentivizing active and healthy living among young people in the Bronx, serving as a model for childhood education and fitness."
“The creation of a world class ice-skating facility that will provide athletic opportunities to everyone from local residents to Olympic champions would realize a dream that arose out of my daughters’ figure skating training at the Olympic facility in Lake Placid,” said City Council Member G. Oliver Koppell.
“By all measures, the transformation of the Kingsbridge Armory into the Kingsbridge National Ice Center would have a profound, positive economic impact on the Bronx and the entire city,” said Carl Weisbrod, KNIC consultant and partner at HR&A Advisors and the founding President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. “KNIC would be a true economic engine that would create hundreds of permanent and construction-related living wage jobs, and support hundreds more. This global destination would also bolster neighborhood businesses and generate significant new spending and tax revenue for New York City by bringing in millions of visitors to the Bronx, not only from the surrounding area, but from across the country and around the world."
“In 1996, the Bronx City Council delegation and I allocated $27 million in order to secure the re-development of the Kingsbridge Armory. It has always been my position to develop the Armory and help create jobs in order for our Bronx community to completely benefit from this project. I stand with my colleagues in elected office, including Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., who has provided strong leadership in getting this project off the ground. I stand with them in support of the re-development of the Kingsbridge Armory,” said Assemblyman Jose Rivera.
KNIC is estimated to generate approximately 885 construction-related jobs in the Bronx, as well as 170 full-time equivalent permanent positions at the facility. The operations of the facility will ultimately support a total of 380 permanent jobs in the borough, and net new economic activity of more than $42 million annually. With the development of the North Parcel, an additional 520 jobs are expected for the Bronx through both construction and ongoing operations. KNIC has agreed in writing that each of these jobs will pay a “living wage.”
In addition to the creation of “living wage” jobs, KNIC has agreed to handle its local hiring process through the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (BOEDC). The BOEDC has run successful hiring programs for a number of borough businesses, including those retail stores at the Gateway Mall and FreshDirect.
“The Kingsbridge National Ice Center will provide the local businesses with a much needed economic shot in the arm. The thousands of spectators as well as those participating in events will now be able to use the Kingsbridge business corridor to eat at the exceptional restaurants in the area, as well as the stores surrounding this historic structure. The ice center will create jobs and produce millions in revenue for the City and the Bronx as the world’s largest ice arena becomes yet another exceptional sports destination here in the Bronx,” said Marlene Cintron, president of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation.
“The addition of the Kingsbridge National Ice Center to the already diverse Bronx destinations would be a positive step in attracting more visitors to our borough. This project will enhance the visibility of this neighborhood to national as well as international travelers” said Olga Luz Tirado, executive director of the Bronx Tourism Council.
The KNIC will also feature an education program modeled after the wildly successful Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation in Philadelphia. In addition to providing inner-city youth with an opportunity to play hockey, the program includes a strong education component that has created new and positive opportunities for at-risk youth in Philadelphia. Statistics show that this program has been a success, as participating students have seen an increase in their matriculation rate from 46 percent to 97 percent, school attendance increased by 70 percent and academic performance increased by 62 percent. In addition, unsatisfactory behavior has decreased by 54 percent.
The KNIC proposal will also feature more than 50,000 square feet of community space, which will be made available to neighborhood organizations. In total, the project is expected to bring tens of thousands of individuals to the Bronx from other areas each year, opening up the boroughs restaurants, businesses and other attractions to an entirely new audience.
“This education program, combined with this expansive community space, will be a real amenity to the people of not only the northwest Bronx, but the entire borough. The KNIC will generate commerce, new tourism and education opportunities for the Bronx as well,” said Borough President Diaz.
The New York City Economic Development Corporation, which will eventually choose the future tenant of the Kingsbridge Armory, is expected to make their decision before the end of 2012.
“We stand together today to send our message to the City in one voice: the Kingsbridge National Ice Center is the right choice for the Bronx. We urge the City to show their faith in this proposal and give this developer the opportunity to create an innovative, unique and complimentary project in the historic Kingsbridge Armory,” said Diaz.