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Hundreds of public school students finally got their chance to run, jump, scream and play inside the lavishly renovated Park Slope Armory, which opened on Monday after years and years of delays.
The 114-year-old former regimental drill facility, on Eighth Avenue between 14th and 15th streets, was renovated at a cost of $16 million in 2007, but the project ground to a halt as the city first struggled to find an outside operator for the facility, and then stalled in finalizing the deal.
But much of that was forgotten at Monday’s grand opening ceremony, which featured delighted students from PS 107 across the street.
“It’s ginormous!” said excited tot Tess Lovell, a first-grader at the school, which has no gym of its own.
The facility will be operated by the Prospect Park YMCA as a recreation center for nearby public schools, though the details of how students will get there are still being worked out.
The 70,000-square-foot drill floor can accommodate separate track, soccer and basketball events at the same time.
The Y will also offer adult and family memberships for access to weight rooms, cardio fitness machines and exercise classes, either as an add-on to existing Y memberships or a separate, higher fee.
Part of the delay stemmed from more extensive post-renovation fine-tuning that needed to be done, said Robert Hess, the commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services, which runs a 70-person shelter in the building and oversaw the renovation and subsequent contract with the Y.
“These are tough projects once you get into them, and things that look straightforward sometimes aren’t,” he said. “We have a great partner in the Y, but we needed to build this out to their specifications, and that takes time.”
Looking around the arena-like facility, Hess added, “What I see today is that the wait was worth it — we did the job right.”
Community Board 6 member Nica Lalli, who had earlier blamed the city for the delays, agreed with Hess.
“Look, there’s more than enough blame to go around, but we now have a world-class facility for our kids,” she said.
Park Slope Armory (15th Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues). Memberships are on sale now, though the Armory won’t be open to non-students until February. Memberships are $40/month (adults) and $72/month (families). Call (212) 912-2580 for information.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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