The Kingsbridge Armory has officially entered its first stage of transformation.
Last week, Empire State Development board of directors approved a construction loan of $15 million to be used for a part of the capital cost of phase 1 renovations to transform the armory, located at 29 Kingsbridge Road, into the Kingsbridge National Ice Center.
The loan, which was allocated from Governor Cuomo’s New York Works Fund, a tool that allows the state to undertake important improvements and create jobs, is the first payout for the $130 million project.
The monies will be used to begin renovating the massive, 795,000 square foot building into an ice arena, a project that will create at least 400 new jobs, according to ESD.
The project is intended for use by minor league and non-professional hockey teams, figure and speed skating, open skating times, instructional training as well as neighborhood, high school and college leagues.
The central, main rink would have a seating capacity of approximately 5,000.
The property will also have a 50,000 square-foot dedicated community center, a 20,000 square-foot health and training facility, 50 locker rooms including 12 NHL-size rooms, equipment storage as well as on-site parking for over 450 cars.
The developers will be limited to use the loan proceeds on costs directly relating to Phase 1 construction and will not be permitted to use any of it for marketing expenses, legal payments, loan fees or payments in lieu of taxes.
“The redevelopment of Kingsbridge Armory into the Kingsbridge National Ice Center will create jobs and put a long-vacant building back in use,” said an ESD official. “The $15 million loan, recently approved by ESD, will allow this project to move forward and provide an important boost to the local community.”
“We (BOEDC) are very grateful that (Governor) Cuomo has supported the process of this project by providing it with the proceeds that it needs to move forward,” said Marlene Cintron, president of the BOEDC. “I am personally very delighted for the opportunity to break ground on this beautiful building that should be open to the public. I can’t see how it won’t benefit the community.”
The project has also been funded by Bauer Hockey, a hockey equipment company, who invested $4 million towards the project in 2014.
Prior to that funding, KNIC, the developers of the ice center, and the Detroit-based Kresge Foundation also invested money in the project.
KNIC, which is headed by retired New York Ranger Mark Messier and figure skater Sarah Hughes, has also committed to ensuring that at least 51% percent of the 400 new jobs will be filled by the local community.
In anticipation of the Armory’s impact on the local economy some landlords are already asking for hefty commercial rents.
A study is also planned to examine the IRT #4 Jerome/Kingsbridge train station’s transit needs.
The Kingsbridge Armory has been closed to the public since 1996.