Meeting on Kingsbridge Armory held by Senator Rivera

Senator Rivera speaks at the podium, joined by (l-r) John Neary from the Kingsbridge National Ice Center; Marion Phillips III, senior vice president of community relations for Empire State Development; Charles Samboy, assistant vice president of government and community relations for NYC Economic Development Corporation; Anthony Hasbun from NYS Homes and Community Renewal; Rachel Van Tosh, assistant commissioner for NYC Small Business Services and Jessica Gomez from NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
Community News Group / Steven Goodstein

A meeting was recently held to discuss the process of turning the borough’s largest armory into the world’s largest ice center.

On Wednesday, February 17, Senator Gustavo Rivera hosted a meeting in the King Hall of Monroe College, 2501 Jerome Avenue, about the progress of turning the Kingsbridge Armory into the Kingsbridge National Ice Center.

The Empire State Development board of directors recently approved a construction loan of $15 million, allocated from Governor Cuomo’s New York Works Fund, to be used for phase 1 of the armory’s renovations earlier this month.

The loan represents the first installment for the proposed $130 million project.

The meeting, which was headed by Rivera, along with John Neary from the Kingsbridge National Ice Center, Marion Phillips III, senior vice president of community relations for Empire State Development, Charles Samboy, assistant vice president of government and community relations for NYC Economic Development Corporation, Anthony Hasbun from NYS Homes and Community Renewal, Rachel Van Tosh, assistant commissioner for NYC Small Business Services, and Jessica Gomez from NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, discussed the future of the 795,000 square foot historic building and also addressed the growing concerns and questions from the community living in the Kingsbridge Armory’s shadows.

The transformation of this building will result in a central, main rink that would have a 5,000-seat capacity, along with a 50,000 square-foot community center, a 20,000 square-foot health and training facility, 50 locker rooms (including 12 NHL-size rooms) and equipment storage.

When completed, the development should create over 400 new jobs and provide on-site parking for over 450 cars.

The primary, but not the sole purpose, of this development will be the intended use by minor league and non-professional hockey teams, figure and speed skating, open skating times, instructional training along with neighborhood, high school and college leagues.

“This event was held to help build a straight line of communication between the community, KNIC and the government agencies that will play a role in ensuring that the Kingsbridge National Ice Center becomes a thriving economic engine for the west Bronx and its residents,” said Rivera.

“We want to make sure that tenants and business owners that were in this neighborhood prior to this project can stay in this neighborhood even after this transformation,” Rivera added.

Members from local unions, including Local 79 and the Laborer’s Eastern Region Organizing Fund were also in attendance – many of whom were opposed to the idea.

“Rent will increase and jobs will decrease because everybody from all over the country will be flooding to this area of the Bronx as a result of this project,” one member of the Laborer’s Eastern Region Organizing Fund said.

“For years, we have been trying to move along with this process – and we are beginning to see positive results,” said Adaline Walker-Santiago, supporter and chairwoman for Community Board 9.

“Upon completion, the (Kingsbridge National) Ice Center will strongly benefit the future of our children as well as the community and its residents,” she added.

“This building will be great for our children, great for our nearby schools and great for live performances,” said Liz Thompson, supporter and local resident.

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com.

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