Construction Starts On NYC's 1st Rooftop Ice Rink
On Thursday, July 17 Rod Gilbert, former New York Rangers captain and all-time leading scorer, visited Queens to help inaugurate what will become the first rooftop ice skating rink in the city of New York. The hockey star was joined by City Councilmember Eric Gioia (26th Council District), Paul Lloyd, New York State Amateur Hockey Association Eastern Zone vice president, Erik Ekstein, founder and president of Ekstein Development, Ron Kraut, project manager of City Ice Pavilion, and Pat Jackson, the ice center's new director, for the official groundbreaking or, rather, ice hockey puck face-off, atop the roof where the new facility will be built.
On what was once an unused roof above Sleepy's Mattress Company on Van Dam Street in Long Island City, the new City Ice Pavilion will open in fall 2008 as a state-ofthe art ice recreation facility where ice hockey and ice skating enthusiasts will be able to practice their ice skating or hockey moves. Schools, teams and organizations will now have a place to play ice hockey games on a rooftop with breathtaking views of Manhattan.
Leonard Fusco, a founding partner of GF55 Partners, was the architect who designed the new City Ice Pavilion. "I guess the big challenge here was how we put the rink on top of a roof," he said. "There were a lot of technical issues that had to be dealt with. We put together a team of engineers and consultants and we basically coordinated all their efforts." This is the first rooftop ice skating facility for GF55 Partners, which specializes in multifamily homes.
Ekstein Development built and will manage City Ice Pavilion, and the firm's president and chief executive officer was very excited about the project. "Ekstein Development is a multifaceted organization," Ekstein said. "We develop everything from self-storage to commercial properties to luxury condominiums. Besides the ice rink we have two luxury towers going up in Chelsea right now and another one going up here in Long Island City. We are very excited about the City Ice Pavilion. We will have on-site parking and a bus that will route through Manhattan and Queens to bring people to the rink."
Ekstein said that his firm bought the building a few years ago and when he went up to the roof and saw it was flat, with a panoramic view of Manhattan, he knew right away what he wanted to build there. "I played hockey as a kid," said Ekstein. "I wanted to preserve the neighborhood and make some money as well."
Gioia said, "It is a great day for Western Queens. We see more investments come in the neighborhood. It's continuing to make Queens a destination but it's also great for neighborhood kids. It's learning how to ice skate. It will make it a lot easier for kids going to the YMCA to come out here to skate." Gioia's only experience with ice skating has been visiting Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan with his wife and daughter to see the tree. "Now we will be able to skate right here in the neighborhood," declared the councilmember, who lives a few blocks from the new City Ice Pavilion.
Gilbert greeted a rooftop filled with news reporters, photographers and television cameramen with his thoughts about the new City Ice Pavilion. "I am definitely a New Yorker now, since I have been here some 45 years," he said. "I came here as a young boy to play with the Rangers and stayed on to experience this wonderful city. I can recall [that for] my first couple of years in New York, there were no hockey rinks around the city. They were playing roller hockey only behind the old Madison Square Garden and in Brooklyn. Chelsea Piers is a wonderful facility but it is difficult to get to. We needed something like this. On behalf of the Rangers, we are happy to be part of it, offering you our support at the Rangers' office. And we're so close to the Garden here.
"For years kids have been visualizing the opportunity to skate. It's going to be a fantastic event when this opens and I am looking forward to it. To all of you, Erik and Eric, I want to congratulate you for all of your efforts in providing this for us. You can rest assured that kids will benefit from it and the whole community will benefit from it." Following the speeches a ceremonial faceoff took place between Gilbert and Lloyd with Gioia and Ekstein dropping the puck.
City Ice Pavilion is located at 47-32 32nd Pl., Long Island City, one block from Van Dam Street. It will offer a rooftop, NHL-size, 85- by 200-foot ice rink sheltered from the elements by an air dome. A quality restaurant will be added to the rooftop facility. City Ice Pavilion is expected to open in October 2008.
The City Ice Pavilion coaching staff will provide a full range of skating programs for all ages, including:
• Public Skating Sessions (weekdays and weekends)
• Group Discount and Ice Rental • Learn to Skate Classes • Figure Skating Sessions • Hockey Prep Classes • Youth House Hockey League • Advance Hockey Clinics • Open Hockey Sessions • Adult Skills Clinics
• Adult Hockey League
For more information about the new ice skating and ice hockey facility, call 718- 706-6667.