The three-story Yonkers Sports & Event Center would be built up from the roof at 29 Wells Ave. and include 137,000 square feet devoted to year-round sports, recreational use and event space for entertainment.
The Kawasaki factory in Yonkers. Photo by Bob Rozycki
The center would include a 200-meter track along with 5,000 seats for meets and a 400-car parking lot. Also planned are basketball courts, fitness studios, classrooms and swing space to host meetings and conventions. The Armory is also floating ideas for restaurants and additional event space.
The project is expected to create 230 construction jobs and 150 permanent jobs when the center begins operations.
Dr. Norbert Sander, president of The Armory, said the sports and events center would be an economic boon for the city of Yonkers. The development is expected to generate $1 million in tourism spending and attract 100,000 visitors per year.
“Yonkers needs an event center, a convention center, to bring in outside business expos, events, dinners, all of that,” he said.
Sander said he envisions the Yonkers Sports & Event Center becoming a draw for residents statewide. “Sports events are a source in modern times of tremendous community activity, more so than ever. If you can get a center like this really working, it’s really a plus for your community,” he said.
The Armory aims to break ground on the event center next June and construction is expected to take about a year, Sander said. He hopes to open the center in time for the November start of the 2018 track and field season.
Sander said National Resources, a Greenwich-based real estate development and investment company headed by Joseph Cotter, has agreed to donate the air rights atop the Kawasaki plant to The Armory. Natural Resources owns i.Park Hudson, a 24-acre office and technology campus at the former Otis Elevator Co. complex, which includes the Kawasaki plant.
“It’s part of the ongoing progress,” Sander said of securing the air rights. “That’ll be done along with the fundraising. That should be completed in the next month or two.”
Requests for comment from Cotter were not returned at press time.
The Armory already manages a similar complex in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood. New Balance Track & Field Center at The Armory hosts more than 100 track and field competitions annually for more than 125,000 athletes and 500,000 visitors. Sander said the center generates between $15 million to $20 million yearly for the community.
The complex “has benefited whole area,” he said. “We’re seeing really positive energy coming, and I see this happening in Yonkers. This is going to be a real destination for the city.”
State officials in December awarded The Armory Foundation a $2 million economic development grant for its Yonkers project.
“That is a vote of confidence and that gives us legitimacy,” Sander said. “It brings attention to the project and it’s a great start, but we need to build on that.”
In a grant announcement, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano called the project “transformational” for the county and the region.
Sander said the project’s next steps include soliciting seed funds so plans for the center can “get off the ground.” The foundation is reaching out to both the public and private sectors to secure funding. The Armory will also apply for another $2 million grant from the state next June, Sander said.
“We have to get this done sooner rather than later,” he said. “The first six months are crucial.”
Though Sander said the project has received preliminary support from Yonkers city officials and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, there is still a long road ahead. A number of impact studies would need to be completed and the project would need final approval from the city.
“This will happen if we all want it to happen,” Sander said. “In my mind it’s purely a question of will.”