Mayor Bloomberg today announced plans to transform the iconic Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx – vacant since 1996 – into the world's largest indoor ice facility. The landmark armory, which occupies a full City block at 29 West Kingsbridge Road, will be redeveloped into a 750,000-square-foot ice sports facility to be known as Kingsbridge National Ice Center (KNIC). KNIC will feature nine year-round indoor regulation size ice rinks, including a feature rink that can seat approximately 5,000 people and be used to host national and international ice hockey tournaments, figure and speed skating competitions and ice shows.
The project will also include 50,000 square feet of space designated for community uses. It is expected that KNIC will draw more than 2 million visitors a year, vastly increasing the options of ice facilities in New York City, where there are currently only seven year-round ice rinks, none of which are located in the Bronx. The project represents a private investment of $275 million, which will generate 890 construction jobs and 267 permanent jobs. Mayor Bloomberg made the announcement at the Kingsbridge Armory and was joined by KNIC Partners LLC Founder Kevin Parker, New York Rangers hockey legend Mark Messier, Olympic Figure Skating Gold Medalist Sarah Hughes, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., City Council Member Cabrera and New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky.
"Through this redevelopment the Kingsbridge Armory will now have an interior program befitting its iconic exterior architecture," said Mayor Bloomberg. "The construction of the world's largest indoor ice rink facility will create recreational opportunities for millions of visitors and local residents, and most importantly create hundreds of jobs for the local community. This plan is proof that working together we can put aside our differences and do what's best for the city."
"This project is further proof that the Bloomberg Administration's efforts to bring economic investment to the Bronx are paying dividends," said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel. "Soon this building, which has been vacant for more than a decade, will be brought back to life through hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment, becoming a destination for millions of visitors each year."
"This historic announcement represents a great achievement for the Bronx and the entire City," said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky. "The Bloomberg Administration has long been committed to revitalizing the Bronx, and this $275 million private investment is another step forward, bringing a landmark building back to life with the largest ice sports facility in the world, while creating nearly 1,200 permanent and construction jobs that will contribute the area's long-term economic growth."
"Today marks the beginning of a new chapter for the historic Kingsbridge Armory," said Kevin Parker, founder of KNIC Partners. "I thank Mayor Bloomberg and the New York City Economic Development Corporation for this tremendous honor and for believing in our vision, and look forward to working with the community throughout this process to ensure the Armory's future is as incredible as its past. This project is about opportunity, first and foremost, and we are confident the Kingsbridge National Ice Center will become a source of pride for the Bronx and all of New York City for generations to come."
"This is a fantastic project, one that will bring living wage jobs and new recreation opportunities to the northwest Bronx while completely transforming a long-vacant space into a new amenity that will complement the surrounding community," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. "This project shows the tremendous opportunity the Bronx has to offer, and I am proud to have helped move the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory forward."
"I'm pleased to see the outcome of what my office initiated with the efforts and early-stage-discussion in the very beginning, paving the way for the deal that has been brokered," said Councilmember Fernando Cabrera. "Back in 2010 I asked Seth Pinsky, President of the Economic Development Corporation, to consider releasing the Kingsbridge Armory Request for Proposals. I want to thank President Pinsky for his willingness to constructively engage the community in the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory. The EDC selected the developer based on the people's best interest. I'm glad to see that the project has a comprehensive community benefits agreement that is going to bring changes to District 14, the Bronx and beyond."
"Today we are one step closer to transforming the Kingsbridge Armory into an important economic engine for the surrounding Kingsbridge community and the Bronx as a whole," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "I am incredibly pleased that we were able to reach an agreement with the Kingsbridge National Ice Center that addresses the needs of the community I serve."
"I commend Mayor Bloomberg for his leadership in reaching this decision," said New York Rangers legend and NHL Hall of Famer Mark Messier. "As a hockey player, I believe the Kingsbridge National Ice Center will change the sport in the metropolitan area. As a New Yorker, I know it will also change this city, providing invaluable educational and athletic opportunity to thousands of young people, and transforming the Bronx into the new center of ice sports in the United States."
"Today is a day for New York City to celebrate," said Olympic Champion figure skater Sarah Hughes. "The Kingsbridge National Ice Center – and the educational and fitness initiatives it will create – represents new possibilities for so many children, including those who dream of one day becoming Olympic champions. This is the start of something incredible for the Bronx and I am proud to be part of it."
Of the nine ice rinks, five will be located on the main floor and four will be constructed on two platforms elevated approximately 40 feet above the main floor. At least two rinks at KNIC will be sled hockey-compatible for people with disabilities. The facility is expected to be open 365 days a year. In addition to the ice rinks, the facility will feature: a wellness center, with off-ice training fitness, rehabilitation and sports therapy programs; dressing rooms and lockers with storage for individual hockey equipment; concession space; retail space for ice sport goods; and parking for approximately 480 cars. Renderings are available at www.flickr.com/nycmayorsoffice.
KNIC also plans to create a foundation to establish free after-school ice sports and academic tutoring programs for disadvantaged youth. The program will be modeled after the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation in Philadelphia with the goal of providing 12 hours of ice time each weekday during the school year and 9 hours each weekday during summer.
The project will now begin a comprehensive public and environmental review with an anticipated groundbreaking in late 2014. The entire project will be built in two phases, with the first phase, consisting of five ice rinks, 50,000 square feet community space, concessions and parking, expected to be complete by September 2018. The remainder of the project will be built in the second phase which is expected to open by September 2019.
KNIC Partners LLC was selected through a competitive public process that began with the issuance of an RFP by NYCEDC in January 2012, and will now enter into a 99-year lease for the property. The RFP sought a redevelopment plan that would promote economic growth in Kingsbridge and surrounding neighborhoods, provide quality jobs for local residents, and create an exciting destination for people throughout the Bronx and the City.
Built between 1912 and 1917, the Kingsbridge Armory was designed by the architecture firm of Pilcher and Tachau and is an outstanding example of military architecture featuring Romanesque arches, vaulted ceilings, decorative brick and terra cotta, and large battlement towers. Thought to be the largest armory in the world, Kingsbridge Armory is an approximately 575,000 square foot landmarked building. The 180,000 square foot main drill floor measures 300 feet by 600 feet – more than a full New York City block – and is spanned freely by pairs of vaulted steel trusses that rise 110 feet above the drill hall floor. Beneath the drill floor, a 105,000 square foot basement level and a 207,000 square foot sub-basement formerly housed offices, a garage, rifle and pistol ranges, a dining room, a gymnasium, and an auditorium. In addition, on the Armory’s south façade is a 35,000 square foot head-house, the central feature of which is a double-height entrance foyer with a vaulted ceiling. The Armory has not been used for military purposes since 1993. The City has invested about $30 million in capital funds for environmental cleanup in the building, replacement of its roof and repairs to the façade.