On the National Day of Prayer, faith and community leaders, elected officials, and other members of The Bronx community will gather at 3 p.m. this Thursday, March 5, at the Kingsbridge Armory for prayer in support of the Kingsbridge National Ice Center – a transformative project many believe have been stalled due to the dispute with New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC). Faith and community leaders, elected officials, and other members of The Bronx community gatherers will participate in an “hour of prayer” for renewed optimism in one of the city’s most deserving communities.
“We gather in in support of this transformative project and its vision to benefit our community,” says Rev. Que English, pastor at The Bronx Christian Fellowship Church and a signatory to a Community Benefits Agreement that helps bring living wage jobs and additional resources resulting from the future redevelopment of the armory to community-based organizations. “We will issue a call to action to the city – to get behind the Ice Center and its promise to create jobs and opportunity. We pray today because we realize this isn't about EDC vs KNIC, it's about destroying the economic future for our community and its children, the project's potential $1.9 billion in economic impact to the Northwest Bronx and the City as a whole. We must see and embrace the bigger picture."
The Ice Center, to be located in the Kingsbridge section of The Bronx, will be the world’s largest indoor ice sports facility. The project will support an estimated 2,700 construction-related jobs and produce an estimated 820 permanent jobs. It will adapt the historic Kingsbridge Armory building and create a new space to support physical exercise, recreation, educational opportunities, and competitive sports for residents and visitors alike. The Ice Center is expected to produce a net new economic impact of $1.9 billion to the City of New York.
“Transforming the Kingsbridge Armory into the world’s largest indoor ice sports facility will not only revitalize a Bronx landmark, but it will have a significant economic and social impact on the Kingsbridge community and the Bronx as a whole by creating new living wage jobs and community programs for our youth,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "I urge the City and KINC to find a compromise that both protects this historic property and moves this transformative project forward."
The project has enjoyed widespread support from elected officials and community leaders, culminating in a resounding vote of approval from the New York City Council. By securing a $138 million bridge loan commitment from the State of New York, project developers believe they have satisfied the terms of an Escrow Agreement – and are entitled to take delivery of the lease. Doing so would spark the creation of new jobs, construction work and, ultimately, a state-of-the-art facility that would become a global destination.
"This is a great project, one that will not only create new jobs but also activate a long dormant landmark. It is time for this project to move forward. It is time to bring the Kingsbridge National Ice Center to the Bronx," said Ruben Diaz Jr., Bronx Borough President.
EDC officials have contend they lack confidence in the funding commitment of the State and have refused to deliver the signed lease – arguing that developers have not satisfied the terms of the Escrow Agreement. Faith and community leaders demand the EDC immediately withdraw its objection and surrender the lease.
"We, as a faith community, have supported the Kingsbridge National Ice Center throughout the process because we know that the historical community benefits agreement is going to bring about the change we need for our community," said, Rev. Dr. Raymond Rivera, President/CEO, Latino Pastoral Action Center, "Today, we lift our voices in prayer over our community and the project so we may all realize a better city as a result of its completion."
Project developers have secured required permits, retained architectural firms, and advanced project-related benefits for the community. They recently launched the Inline-2-Ice (i2i) program at a local elementary school. This program introduces Bronx school students to the fundamentals of skating, while inspiring a passion for ice sports and the benefits gained through life-long participation.
“My students are not just learning how to skate, they are learning how to have more personal confidence and self-esteem; they are developing positive peer interactions, [and] they are learning to have higher expectations for themselves,” said Martha Martinez, a teacher at PS 86, an elementary school located across the street fromrmory.