The long-delayed Park Slope Armory’s rebirth as a neighborhood recreation center really is now imminent, The Brooklyn Paper has learned.
Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, the city completed all its final building inspections, the last step before the Department of Homeless Services can hand over the keys to the Prospect Park YMCA.
The handoff begins the YMCA’s six- to eight-week transformation of the renovated former armory building on Eighth Avenue into a gym and school recreation center.
That puts Y Executive Director Sean Andrews on schedule for a mid-January opening for school kids. Paying members will follow shortly thereafter, he said.
Though the project has long been delayed, Andrews has a firm deadline of Feb. 3 — when Borough President Markowitz christens the building with his annual State of the Borough Address, an event that typically draws thousands.
Markowitz will no doubt tout the creation of a new resource for Park Slope residents and area schools, but the project has been frustrating for those very users. The city’s $16-million renovation of the former 14th Regiment Armory was completed in 2007, but the recreational space is still unused.
Critics partly blame the Department of Education, which initially pledged some money because its schoolkids would use the facility during the day. But those city funds dried up, and potential private operators ran for the hills.
Andrews’s YMCA jumped into the breach, promising to meet the city’s demands of a recreation space for local schools, plus senior programs, exercise programs for kids, reduced-cost memberships for low-income families, art programs, and other offerings. All of that would be subsidized by operating a paid facility for exercise classes, weight lifting and cardiovascular fitness.
The YMCA needs about 2,500 members to cover its $1-million operational budget. Andrews admitted that he needs to sell a lot of $40-per-month memberships at a gym whose main recreational area is off limits from 9 am-2 pm every day.