Testimony of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
Before the City Council’s Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee
On the Kingsbridge Armory
December 5th, 2013

Good morning, Chairperson Weprin and the members of the City Council’s Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee, I am Ruben Diaz Jr., Borough President of the Bronx.

I am here today to offer my enthusiastic support for the Kingsbridge National Ice Center and the four ULURP applications, which when approved will facilitate construction of one of the most outstanding ice sports arenas in the world.  This project transforms an iconic yet vacant, landmark into a destination for thousands, and by so doing it will also revitalize an entire community and offer permanent living wage employment for Bronx residents.

The key to the anticipated success of this project is that it represents the culmination of a comprehensive participatory process that included all those who have an interest in the future of the Kingsbridge Armory.  These parties include representatives of the surrounding community, the borough’s elected officials, the Mayor’s Office and the city’s Economic Development Corporation, as well as those associated with the Kingsbridge National Ice Center’s development team.

I am pleased to highlight some supporting figures that substantiate my endorsement, such as an approximate $300 million dollar investment to restore and preserve an historic Bronx landmark, which entails the reconstruction of the entire drill hall floor;

The project will also pay its employees a living wage of $11.75 per hour without benefits, $10.00 per hour with benefits; which represents a great victory for this site, given where we started from. The redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory will create 170 full time equivalent permanent positions at the Armory, as well as 885 construction related jobs on site. In addition, the project is expected to create an additional 2,700 off-site jobs as a consequence of its development.

KNIC will generate 580,000 annual visits to the Armory, which in turn will generate new economic activity approximating $42 million annually.

My enthusiasm for this proposal and what it will offer the Bronx and our city is only surpassed by my support for the Community Benefits Agreement that has been achieved.  This agreement is historic, as it sets to paper benefits I believe establish a gold standard for all future projects that rely on the disposition and use of public sector assets.  Key components of this agreement include assurances that 51 percent of those working at the Armory will be Bronx residents, and that employers shall award 25 percent of the funds spent on employees performing construction, to Minority and Women/Owned Bronx businesses.

Beyond these stipulations, the developer has also pledged to provide an initial monetary contribution of $8 million, to be used towards developing and building out the 50,000 square feet of community facility space for an annual rent of $1.

In addition, $1 million dollars of ice time will be provided annually to local schools and community organizations. KNIC will also provide $250,000 for capital improvements of properties and local businesses,

I am also especially proud to note that this entire project will be environmentally sound, as a LEED Silver designation is being sought.
My administration is very proud of what the entire proposal represents.  It is a project that broadens the profile of the Bronx as a place where new ideas can become reality, where new approaches can bring about better results.

So many people have worked so hard to bring this project to fruition. From elected officials, to the community board, to local organizations, to our non-profits, to the developer and everyone in between—what we are discussing today is the culmination of years, if not decades, of advocacy and effort to revitalize this magnificent structure. A vote in opposition to this project would be reprehensible.

In closing, I recommend approval of these applications and by so doing endorse the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory by the Kingsbridge National Ice Center.