After years and years of debate over what to do with it, one of the largest buildings in the city is about to become the largest ice skating venue in the world. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.
After sitting vacant for almost 20 years the Kingsbridge Armory could become the place where gold medal skaters and Stanley Cup winners of the future get their start.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled the plans Tuesday to turn the landmark building into a sports complex featuring nine regulation size ice rinks and a 5,000 seat feature rink.
The ice rink project was first proposed more than a year ago, and was chosen over a plan to turn the building into a mixed use facility.
Finding a proper fit for the armory and community has been a long process. In 2009, a plan to turn it into retail space fell through over objections from Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and others who insisted workers be paid a so-called living wage of $10 an hour.
Construction of the Kingsbridge National Ice Center, as it will be known, is expected to generate 890 construction jobs and 267 permanent ones with employees earning between $10 and $11.50.
"This project will provide hundreds or living wage jobs that the developer said he would provide. And he said that from day one," Diaz Jr. said.
The BP says the facility will not disrupt other area businesses.
"Nothing that's going in here is going to compete with the neighboring businesses outside and be detrimental to the jobs that are outside of this facility," Diaz Jr. added.
The 750,000 square foot facility is expected to draw two million spectators a year. Fifty thousand square feet will be used as community space where local kids can work with professional athletes to learn ice sports free of charge.
"The number one priority is to build good civilians first and foremost and I think we have a tremendous opportunity to do that here through great mentorship programs, through great leaders, through great coaching," said New York Rangers Hall of Famer Mark Messier.
A groundbreaking is set for next year, with an expected opening in 2017.r.