Melle Mel says hip-hop better Bronx fit than hockey

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Melle Mel says hip-hop better Bronx fit than hockey

Postby romeorock » Thu Jan 09, 2014 7:38 pm

Bronx Bronx legends meet with Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., discuss Kingsbridge Armory hip-hop museum

By Daniel Beekman / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012, 6:00 AM

"The Message" rapper Melle Mel and other hip-hop legends sent Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. a message: they disagree with his support for an ice sports center at the Kingsbridge Armory.

They met with Diaz last Thursday to promote an alternate armory redevelopment proposal that includes a hip-hop museum. The Bronx is widely recognized as the "birthplace of hip-hop."

But the museum boosters left empty-handed. Diaz will continue to back the Kingsbridge National Ice Center. He endorsed the $250 million plan last month.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation controls the long-vacant armory and has yet to select a proposal.

Mel, born Melvin Glover, wondered about Diaz playing politics and called the ice center a poor fit for the "Boogie Down" borough.

"The Bronx has a certain identity that should be maintained," said the rapper, whose 1982 record "The Message" is a hip-hop classic. "You don't open a soul food restaurant in the Connecticut suburbs. You don't see ice skating in the Bronx. It should fit the accent of the community."

But Diaz spokesman John DeSio said the ice center bid is "the better project" based on "economics, not politics." The borough president prefers the proposal because it guarantees "living wage" jobs and because it includes an ice sports education program for local Bronx youth.

The plan is backed by Wall Street bankers, New York Rangers hockey hero Mark Messier and gold medalist figure skater Sarah Hughes.

With nine indoor rinks, the ice center would attract more than 1.5 million visitors from outside the Bronx annually, according to the businessmen behind the plan.

But a hip-hop museum would also draw tourists to the borough, said Bronx turntable pioneer Afrika Bambaataa, who supports the other leading bid. Hip-hop is a global phenomenon, he noted.

"We want to bring it back to the Bronx," said the "Planet Rock" deejay, born Kevin Donovan. "The international community wants to come see that."

Mel and Bambaataa are consultants for Mercado Mirabo, an armory redevelopment proposal submitted by the West Village firm Young Woo & Associates.

In addition to the hip-hop museum, Mercado Mirabo calls for shops, restaurants, basketball, a fitness club, a climbing wall, a movie theater and an artisan market for local entrepreneurs.

Mel believes the market would empower Bronx residents and help existing neighborhood businesses reach new customers.

He described the ice center as "another Yankee Stadium" that would cater to wealthy outsiders.

The museum boosters plan to meet with City Councilman Fernando Cabrera next. The Council will vote on the fate of the armory after the EDC selects a bid. Diaz and Community Board 7 will issue recommendations.
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