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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Armory ice center barrels through ULURP

By Sarina Trangle
Posted
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Olympic gold medal figure skater Sarah Hughes and Rangers legend Mark Messier applaud at a Sept. 20 hearing at Borough Hall on Sept. 20.

Correction appended.

Developers seeking to transform the Kingsbridge Armory into the world’s largest skating and hockey complex are gliding along solid and pristine ice.

The Kingsbridge National Ice Center’s (KNIC) proposal to turn the 575,000 square-foot building into a nine-rink facility has fulfilled the first few steps in the Universal Land Use Review Process (ULURP), a lengthy vetting process seeking the feedback of the community board and borough president before review by the Planning Commission and City Council.

On Sept. 17, Community Board 7 approved the measure with 20 of the 25 present members voting to support the ice center. 

The application then went to Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who last spring announced alongisde Mayor Michael Bloomberg that the city agreed to lease the armory to KNIC Partners LLC.

After Mr. Diaz’s office organized a Sept. 20 public hearing on the application, he issued a recommendation supporting the ice complex Tuesday. The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved KNIC’s plan later that day.

More than two dozen people spoke at the public hearing, all of whom were in favor of the project. 

Adaline Walker-Santiago, chair of Community Board 7, said board members who voted against the project still supported it but had concerns about traffic. Given the armory has hosted concerts with 3,000 attendees and the board received no complaints, Ms. Walker-Santiago said she was confident the ice complex would not create vehicular congestion along neighboring streets.

The Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, along with other neighborhood organizations that helped negotiate a $1.7 billion community benefits agreement with KNIC came out en masse. 

A few thanked Mr. Diaz for fighting a prior proposal to build a market inside the armory because he felt it would compete with nearby businesses and pay low wages. The tiff inspired the Living Wage Bill that currently requires developers that receive taxpayer subsidies to pay living wage jobs — defined as $10 per hour with benefits or $11.50 without.

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