Plans are underway for the 750,000-square-foot Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx to become the world’s largest ice-skating complex, according to its developers. Crain’s New York reported that the development duo of Kevin Parker, former Deutsche Bank executive, and Mark Messier, former center for the New York Rangers, have secured financing for phase one of their $350 million project, which they plan to begin constructing mid-next year. Parker said that Citibank has promised his group, Kingsbridge National Ice Center, a significant loan for construction to be paired with the $35 million already raised through private investment. “Citibank is committed to doing the first phase of the project,” he told Crain’s. “And they’ve indicated a strong desire to finance the second phase. But we’re going one step at a time.” If approved by New York City officials, the first phase of construction would include the build-out of the 5-acre site into nine rinks, athletic facilities, and a 5,000-seat stadium. Construction for phase one would likely total $170 million in overall costs and Parker hopes to raise money for the remainder of the project in order to complete it by 2022. The Kingsbridge National Ice Center has been a six-year dream in the making for Parker and Messier. The city currently owns the armory and hasn’t given the pair a lease, telling the duo that the city would wait until further financing was secured. The new fundraising news presumably means that the city will be ready to greenlight the project. Earlier this year, Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged to give the project a $138 million loan to help it find long-term financing after phase one is done. Parker and Messier’s idea for an ice facility beat out other proposals that would have transformed the century-old red brick building into either a film and television complex, a mixed sports center, or a chess center. A highly-contested site, it was designated a New York City landmark in 1974 and was heralded as a leading example of military architecture. The armory originally housed the National Guard and features an 800-seat auditorium and a 180,000-square-foot drill hall. The nine-story structure includes an iconic, curved, sloping metal roof that can be seen from the Major Deegan Expressway and from the surrounding neighborhood near Fordham University.
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Earlier this month, workers broke ground on the largest Twin Cities real estate development project in two decades. Budding off a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings, designed by HKS, locally based Ryan Companies saw an opportunity to redefine the Minneapolis neighborhood of Downtown East. Their five-block mixed-use development will include two 18-story office towers for Wells Fargo, six levels of parking with more than 1,600 spaces, about 24,000 square feet of retail space, 193 apartments and a four-acre urban park near the new stadium’s northwest corner. Wells Fargo currently has 5,000 employees scattered across more than a dozen offices throughout the area. Bordering the Mississippi River, Downtown East is already home to the Guthrie Theater, whose form mimics the defunct flour mills that comprise much of the area’s post-industrial building stock—a heritage celebrated by the Mill City Museum, also in Downtown East. And while some residential development has followed those cultural attractions, the neighborhood has so far missed out on the artistic cachet that has enlivened nearby areas like North Loop and Northeast. The New York Times took a look at what the Downtown East development could mean for the city and state, which wrestled with financing for the new Vikings Stadium before ultimately approving partial public funding. While officials are quick to tout the project’s economic potential, some residents blast its lack of low-income housing. From the Times article by Christina Capecchi:
Mayor [Betsy] Hodges said she hoped to work affordable housing into Downtown East. “The housing portion hasn’t been fully fleshed out,” she said, “so that’s a conversation we’re having.” Ultimately, Downtown East is a chance to spur the development that the 31-year-old Metrodome failed to generate, said Michael Langley, chief executive of the Minneapolis St. Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership. “This is an opportunity for a huge do-over,” he said.Minneapolis has undertaken a slew of large infrastructure improvements lately, such as a revamp of downtown's pedestrian strip, Nicollet Mall, and public transportation investments to the bike-friendly city that include a long-awaited light rail connection to neighboring St. Paul and an intermodal transit station next to Target Field.
[beforeafter] [/beforeafter] Above: "Gateway Fountain" in warm and cold seasons. (Courtesy Navy Pier) Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration Wednesday revealed details about two initiatives they said would amount to $1.1 billion in investment: a new 10,000-seat arena for DePaul University located across the street from McCormick Place, and an overhaul to Navy Pier — the city’s largest tourist attraction. Navy Pier’s remodeling, which includes a new water feature and an expansion of the Children’s Museum, will total $278 million. Future phases of the project will involve redesigned public and commercial spaces along the pier, additional dining space, and a new park featuring a bicycle flyover on the pier’s west end. Marilynn Gardner, president of Navy Pier, told Crain’s Chicago Business’ Gren Hinz that the pier “was becoming too carnival-like,” as proposals for the aging tourist mainstay picked up momentum. Last year High Line designer James Corner was chosen to head the renewal. “We're creating a more authentic experience,” she said, “celebrating the fact that it's a pier.” Gensler's Elva Rubio wondered aloud in a blog post, "What Will it Take to Make Navy Pier a Real Place?" The $140 million DePaul basketball arena plan calls for an additional $33 million in public TIF funding for land acquisition and streetscaping. A sky bridge would connect McCormick Place West to the arena, which would double as an event center for shows smaller than McCormick Place is accustomed to. It would be between Cermak, Prairie, 21st and Indiana streets. Two hotels — one 500-room boutique hotel and a 1,200 “headquarters hotel” announced last year — would round out the area’s new development. Also previously announced, Ross Barney Architects will design a new CTA Green Line station for McCormick Place, on the south side of Cermark and 23rd Street. New renderings reveal a bit more about the project, expected sometime in 2014. Emanuel’s team made the announcements on the first day of the Mayor’s third year in office, and the initiatives reflect his oft-repeated promotion of tourism and trade shows in the city. McCormick Place is the largest convention center in North America.