Slap shots, triple axels and throwing curling stones are not the first things that come to mind when thinking of the Bronx. That could soon change.
On Tuesday, standing on the immense drill floor of the Kingsbridge Armory, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. announced the city had come to an agreement with a developer to turn the world’s largest armory into the world’s largest ice sports complex.
The Kingsbridge National Ice Center, which the developer plans to open partially by 2018, will feature nine all-year round indoor ice rinks, as well as a 5,000-seat main rink and 50,000 square-feet of community space.
Those gathered to announce the long-awaited agreement included a smattering of elected officials. Members of the development group KNIC Partners LLC, said the historic building would be transformed into an international destination for hockey tournaments, figure and speed skating competitions and ice shows. They expect to draw more than two million visitors per year.
“Ladies and gentleman, this is a great day for the Bronx, this is a great day for the community, this is a great day for good ideas. It’s long overdue,” Mr. Diaz said.
KNIC Partners LLC, founded by Kevin Parker, will invest $275 million to redevelop the armory. The project will create 890 construction jobs and 267 permanent jobs.
A few years ago, it looked like the armory would remain vacant, as it has since 1996.
During his speech, Mr. Bloomberg acknowledged the battle that took place in 2009 between his administration and Mr. Diaz. The Bloomberg Administration had supported a deal to turn the 575,000 square-foot building into a shopping mall. Mr. Diaz, with the backi ng of many community groups and other Bronx elected officials, opposed the plan because they felt the low-wage jobs and more retail stores near Fordham Road would hurt the Bronx’s economy.