They’re up in Armory

The Brooklyn Paper
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The much-anticipated Park Slope Armory won’t open at least until the spring — more than a year after local pols gathered for the official ribbon cutting, The Brooklyn Paper has learned.

The news of yet another delay is no surprise to Park Slopers. In 2004, the city first announced it would rehabilitate the run-down Eighth Avenue building, and said it would open by 2006. But when construction was complete by January, the city admitted it hadn’t found an operator for the space and couldn’t open it to the public.

The Prospect Park YMCA secured the deal in March, and has been negotiating with the city ever since.

And this time, Y officials are saying that the opening next spring is for real.

“We’ve reached a full agreement on all the major points and the [10-year] contract is being drafted now,” YMCA Executive Director Sean Andrews told The Brooklyn Paper this week. “Everything is going ahead as quickly as possible.

“We understand that this has been a lengthy process,” he added. “We’re moving ahead and we have a lot of the key pieces in place.”

The city held that now-infamous ribbon-cutting in February after the Y was selected to operate the Armory.

A promise that the armory would open in September proved to be too optimistic, and the date was pushed back to January.

The athletic center, restored at a cost of $16 million, spans nearly an entire block between 14th and 15th streets and Seventh and Eighth avenues. The facility will primarily be used for public school track-and-field events, soccer, basketball and weight training.

Andrews has said the Y will also host teen and after-school activities, a camp and public meetings. Area residents will be able to join the Armory and access its facilities, without joining the full YMCA.

Membership rates are currently being discussed, but will be “affordable,” Andrews said.

The city will continue to operate a 70-bed women’s shelter there. And nearby schools will use the facility.

The Y will generate revenue through donations, sponsorships, events, and membership fees.

It’s about time, community leaders said.

“I am happy to hear that the process is moving forward,” said Councilman Bill DeBlasio (D-Park Slope).

“While it has been a long work in progress for visions for the armory to become a reality, this facility will provide immeasurable benefits to the community for years to come, and I look forward to its opening.”

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Reader Feedback

Robert from Park Slope says:
The Y is a good organization but they are incapable of honoring a deadline. The ground-breaking ceremony for the new aquatic center at the 9th Street branch was held in October 2007. Fifteen months later, the shovel of dirt turned over by Marty Markowitz, Bill DeBlasio and others remains the only work completed on the project.
Dec. 29, 2008, 12:50 pm

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