It took long enough, but it now appears as though the gigantic armory in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx will finally be redeveloped into a huge ice sports center. That means jobs, a more-vibrant community and, let’s not forget, jobs.
The armory long ago outlived its usefulness, but City Hall and local officials simply couldn’t get together on a plan for the city-owned facility. Rudy Giuliani wanted to transform the site into a sports and entertainment complex, but it was late in his final term, and so nothing happened.
Mayor Bloomberg envisioned the facility as a shopping mall, but local merchants worried about the competition and critics argued that retail shops would create low-wage jobs that would be of limited benefit to the community. Mr. Bloomberg and the Bronx borough president, Ruben Díaz Jr., were on less-than-cordial terms by the time the mall concept was pronounced dead.
Credit both men and their staffs for putting aside their differences to come together on a completely new idea, a privately financed ice sports center that will include a 5,000-seat arena and nine rinks. And credit KNIC Partners, the company that will redevelop the site, for promising to give Bronx residents a priority in hiring. The project is expected to create 267 permanent jobs and nearly 900 construction jobs.
It would seem fair to say that Kingsbridge is not exactly a hotbed of ice sports, at least at the moment. But that may change if the developers live up to their promise of generous community outreach. The company has pledged to turn over 50,000 square feet of the giant facility (which totals 750,000 square feet) to community use, and to donate free ice time to schools in some of the borough’s poorer neighborhoods.
The developers also promised to pay all workers a so-called “living wage” of $10 an hour plus benefits, or $11.50 an hour without benefits. That’s fine—that’s the company’s prerogative. The good news is that those conditions were not mandated by government. They were the result of negotiations between the developers and the community.
The Bronx has needed this development for years. It’s great to see that it’s actually happening.