Clock ticking on Armory rink

It's Community Board 7's turn to review the Kingsbridge National Ice Center Project as part of ULURP.
Photo by David Cruz

Community Board 7’s finally got the bundle it’s waited on for months – papers for the public review portion of the Kingsbridge National Ice Center project.

“It’s a big bundle,” said newly-appointed chairwoman Adaline Walker, longtime board member already backing what’s billed to be the world’s largest skating rink to be built inside the massive Kingsbridge Armory.

Several scenarios can play out for the next half of the year, as agencies could deliberately rush or slow down the review process, depending on whether they want this project approved by the time the Bloomberg Administration leaves office.

As part of the lengthy Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, the city Planning Dept. forwarded the KNIC papers on July 25th, with the official 60-day review process beginning July 31st.

The community board has until September 30th to pour over the $275 million proposal, with the Land Use & Zoning Committee getting first dibs on offering an opinion.

They will study the traffic and environmental impacts by the new project, housing nine ice skating rinks, a 5,000-seat arena and after-school hockey programs.

The four-member panel will then pass their recommendations to the entire board for a non-binding vote next month.

Though purely advisory, CB7’s vote can sway public opinion on a project that could serve as a flash point for gentrification in the low-income neighborhood.

Approved or not, the review will move to Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who has 30 days to okay the project.

Diaz came out early in support of the project after eco-friendly developer Kevin Parker okayed a $10/hour living wage for its 260 employees and a promise not to draw business away from the Fordham Rd. shopping district.

A Community Benefits Agreement brokered by the developer and local community groups calls for, among other things, 50,000-square-feet of community space inside the 575,000-square-foot structure.

After Diaz, the City Planning Commission will then have 60 days to render a decision.

Should the BP and CB7 decide to chew up their entire time, the planning commission member vote could be pushed to November or December, the last full month for the Bloomberg Administration, which backs KNIC.

Final approval will rest with the City Council, which generally will go along with the wishes of Councilman Fernando Cabrera, who represents the Kingsbridge area.

Cabrera hasn’t committed to the project yet, though he’s leaning to the KNIC plan, calling it the “new Yankee Stadium of skating.”

If the Council passes it, the Bronx will see the completed rink in 2018.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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