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Kingsbridge Armory rink proposal on thin ice?

Bronx Times

With the city expected to come down with a decision this month on the future of the Kingsbridge Armory, at least one of its proposals is getting a cold shoulder from some major players.

The city’s Economic Development Corp. is weighing two proposals - a regional ice skating center with nine rinks or an entertainment complex with a movie theater, restaurants and retail booths.

But the rink proposal could be on thin ice on two counts, according to sources.

Several members of local Community Board 7 are reported to be opposed to the rink over its economic viability in the low-income neighborhood.

Its developers have said that besides locally, the rink facility, with a 5,000-seat arena for concerts and other venues, would draw 85% of users from outside the city, including neighboring Westchester County.

But a monkey wrench has been thrown into that argument with a recent proposal for another mega skating rink just next door.

Government officials in the Westchester County hamlet of Rye Brook are reviewing a four-rink proposal by Reckson Operating Partnership, a division of SL Realty.

They hope to break ground on the 140,000-square-foot facility in September 2013. A spokeswoman for SL Realty declined comment.

Chris Bradbury, Rye Brook’s chief administrator, unaware of the Bronx project by the Kingsbridge National Ice Center, said the town’s board of trustees are expected to meet Dec. 13 to discuss the Reckson proposal.

Adding to the headaches is KNIC’s lack of support from special interests groups and Board 7, which would issue a non-binding vote on the rink.

Some board members have said they plan to “run out the clock” on weighing the proposal - if chosen by the EDC - since there is a 60-day review process allotted for the board under the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.

The review process would then go to Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who supports the rink proposal; then the city Planning Commission, and the City Council for a final vote.

“If the community board were to take the sixty days,” said the source, “it could be a problem.”

At the last CB7 general board meeting Nov. 19, Councilman Oliver Koppell urged members to back the rink plan. That was two weeks before news broke of the Rye Brook rink proposal.

For now, the ball is in EDC’s court, as the agency continues negotiations with both developers.

The borough president backed the rink project in August after developer Kevin Parker promised to pay its 175 employees a $10 living wage.

Mercado Mirabo, KNIC’s competitor, wants to build an entertainment complex featuring a 4D movie theater, restaurants, sports fields, and a Hip Hop museum.

The project by Youngwoo & Associates would create over 900 jobs in a borough facing the highest jobless rate in the state.

But the project has faced backlash from the business community on YWA’s proposal to put a weekend retail hub there.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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