Plans to build the largest indoor ice hockey facility in the country at the former Kingsbridge Armory remain on hold after a lawsuit filed against the city was thrown out by a judge last week.
On Tuesday, December 20, New York Supreme Court Judge Ruben Franco dismissed a lawsuit by Kingsbridge National Ice Center, a development company spearheaded by New York Rangers legend Mark Messier, alleging breach of contract against the NYC Economic Development Corporation for failing to turn over the lease to the property to the developers so they could acquire financing.
Without the lease, the group alleges, obtaining funding for the project has been severely hampered.
Franco noted in his decision that his verdict would likely be appealed, dragging the fight on even longer.
Councilman Fernando Cabrera, who represents the Kingsbridge Heights neighborhood, said in a statement he was cautiously optimistic about the project’s future following the decision.
“I am hopeful that Judge Franco’s recent decision will finally end the stalemate that has delayed the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory and allow the project to move forward,” Cabrera stated in a release after the decision.
But other Bronx elected officials have grown frustrated with the delays, including Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., who has been a champion of the project from the beginning after plans for a shopping center at the location was scrapped under the Bloomberg administration.
“Both sides need to come together and make this project happen. The community has waited too long and worked too hard to accept anything less.” said John DeSio, Diaz’s communications director.
But EDC spokesman Anthony Hogrebe put the blame squarely on the developer for not living up to its end of the deal.
“We hope KNIC will now stop wasting time on lawsuits, and start securing the financing to get this project moving,” he said.
KNIC LLC could not be reached for comment on the decision for this story.
Among those frustrated with the lack of progress and numerous delays is Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who sided with the developer on the opinion that the EDC was to blame for delays.
“Why are we still talking about this? I suggest the EDC get off its butt and get this done,” Dinowitz said
The assemblyman said it would have a positive recreational and economic impact on both the Kingsbridge community and the Bronx as a whole.
The armory once held various recreational events, but now, even though the city spent millions fixing the roof, Dinowitz said it now sits vacant.
“We want a return on that investment,” he said.
The former Eighth Regiment Armory, located in Kingsbridge Heights at the corner of West Kingsbridge Road and Jerome Avenue, was the largest military armory in the world.
The massive structure was completed in 1917 after five years of construction. It takes up almost an entire city block and dwarfs everything around it.
The structure can be seen for miles around from both the Bronx and from across the Harlem River in northern Manhattan.