It's a Youth Hockey CASTLE!
At long last, Bronx ice megacenter nears deal for financing, developer says loan for Kingsbridge project would allow construction to commence......
The leader of the group that has tried for years to convert the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx into the world's largest ice-skating complex says he has secured financing for the first phase of the $350 million project's construction.
Kevin Parker, a former Deutsche Bank executive, who along with former New York Rangers star Mark Messier envisioned redeveloping the cavernous 5-acre armory into a skating center with nine rinks, athletic facilities and stadium seating for 5,000, told Crain's that Citibank was close to awarding the group a construction loan. A spokeswoman for the Empire State Development Corp. also said that the group was in advanced conversations with Citibank for the financing.
"Citibank is committed to doing the first phase of the project," Parker said. "And they've indicated a strong desire to finance the second phase. But we're going one step at a time."
A spokesman for Citibank declined to comment.
Parker said the first of the planned two-phase conversion would involve the installation of five of the nine rinks. He said the development group would close on the construction loan in the coming weeks and work would begin in the middle of next year.
Parker also said that his group, known as the Kingsbridge National Ice Center, had raised more than $35 million in private funds to pay for the remainder of the first phase, which will likely cost more than $170 million. Among the investors, he said, was hockey equipment company Bauer, which he said sees the ice center as a way to popularize the sport.
"Hockey is in the U.S., and New York City has had a shortage of skating venues," Parker said, referring to metro-area demand for ice time vastly outstripping the supply of rinks. "Anyone can do the math."
Parker said if things go seamlessly, when the first five rinks are completed, his group will have secured the remaining financing and private investment to complete the project by early 2022.
The Citibank financing would signify a turnaround for the plan, which largely has been stalled since Parker and his group proposed converting the 750,000-square-foot armory into rinks six years ago. The city, which owns the armory, has refused to grant the Kingsbridge National Ice Center a lease until it secures financing.
Earlier this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo pledged a $138 million loan for the project to help it obtain long-term financing once the first phase is done. The loan helped the project secure construction financing in that amount because it assured construction lenders that long-term financing would be available for the speculative project and they would be able to recoup their money once construction was complete.
Controversy marked the armory redevelopment well before the ice center was proposed. The Bloomberg administration originally favored a plan to turn the armory into a massive mall but abandoned it when the Bronx City Council delegation insisted all jobs at the shopping center pay a "living wage"—$11.50 an hour. The minimum wage in the city now stands at $13 and will rise to $15 on Dec. 31.Originating Story