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Mayor Bloomberg, Parks Commissioner White and the Prospect Park Alliance Open New Lefrak Center Ice Rink and 26 Restored Acres of Prospect Park

December 17, 2013

26-Acres of Restored Parkland in Lakeside Section of Prospect Park; Improvements Highlight Success of Public-Private Partnerships in City Parks

Starting on December 20th, New Facility Will Offer Year-Round Skating and Water Play

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White and President of the Prospect Park Alliance Emily Lloyd today unveiled the Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center, a year-round skating and recreational facility in Prospect Park and opened 26 newly restored acres of the park. The LeFrak Center is home to two rinks for ice skating, roller skating and water play and public amenities including a café and event space. The new facility, which will open to the public on Friday, December 20, represents the second and final phase of a 26-acre, $74-million restoration and redesign of an underutilized section of Prospect Park, known as the Lakeside section. The largest and most ambitious capital project in Prospect Park since the nineteenth century, the restoration restores the original Olmsted-Vaux vision and adds an additional eight acres of usable space. The Mayor was also joined at the opening by Borough President Marty Markowitz, Assembly Member Jim Brennan, Council Members Brad Lander and Mathieu Eugene, LeFrak CEO Richard LeFrak, project architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien.

“At over 500 acres and welcoming millions of visitors each year, Prospect Park is one of our city’s great treasures – and today, it is growing even more spectacular,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “This 26-acre restoration of Lakeside builds on the park’s natural beauty – and helps restore the park’s original vision – while also including modern amenities and green infrastructure that will help sustain the park for years to come. It will benefit the local community and all who use the park from neighborhoods across the city – and all those who come here from around the world to experience the best of Brooklyn.”

”It's a great year for skating in the borough of Brooklyn, as we open the City's newest ice rinks at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside in Prospect Park,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White. “This state-of-the-art attraction will provide visitors to the park with a fun way to stay active and outdoors in every season. We are grateful to our partners at the Prospect Park Alliance for their dedication to this important enhancement, as well as Mayor Bloomberg for his leadership and support.”

“This is a fantastic day for Prospect Park, Brooklyn and our entire City,” said Prospect Park Alliance President Emily Lloyd. “After years of hard work, our dream to restore the southeast corner of the park into an accessible year-round destination for all New Yorkers that stays true to the original Olmsted and Vaux vision is finally here. The Prospect Park Alliance and its individual, corporate, and foundation donors played a critical role in making the project a reality, raising close to $20 million — nearly 30% of the funds for the entire project. Because of this generous private giving, we attracted significant public investment to make our plans a reality. Plus the contribution of our naming donors, the LeFraks, means that Lakeside will remain an attraction for the next 100 years. We can’t wait to see everyone on December 20 and throughout the year.”

"There is no better gift to the residents of Brooklyn and New York City for this holiday season than the opening of the Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center at Lakeside in Prospect Park,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “You could say it is the ‘icing’ on the cake that is Prospect Park! I am thrilled to join Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Assembly Member Jim Brennan, Council Members Brad Lander and Mathieu Eugene, Parks Commissioner Veronica White, EDC President Kyle Kimball, the Prospect Park Alliance, and the LeFrak family in helping to make this new amenity, for now and future generations, a reality. So lace up your skates, 'cause the ice in Prospect Park is now twice as nice!"

“I know the whole community is excited for the opening of the LeFrak Center at Lakeside in Prospect Park,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “It is a fabulous facility that will benefit all of Brooklyn. The LeFrak Center is here thanks to the forethought and leadership of the Prospect Park Alliance – we are lucky to have them as stewards of our great park. I am proud that the City Council contributed funding to make this project a reality.”

“Our family is delighted that we were able to honor our parents in a way that will also bring so much happiness to youngsters and everyone who comes to enjoy the treasures of Prospect Park,” said LeFrak CEO Richard LeFrak.

The LeFrak Center includes two rinks, one covered and one uncovered. Each rink can accommodate 450 skaters and can be connected, allowing people to skate between them. In addition to public skating, the rinks will be available for rental for hockey leagues and private events. The facility replaces the 50-year old Wollman Skating Rink that was previously only open four months during the year. Construction on the LeFrak Center, which is managed by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, began in November 2010, while the entire 26-acre restoration began in October 2009.

The project was designed by famed Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, together with the Prospect Park Alliance’s lead landscape architect Christian Zimmerman. Constructed of rough-hewn green granite, the building blends seamlessly into the natural topography of Prospect Park to create an active urban space coupled with modern amenities. Pathways around the facility bring visitors up to a green roof where a terrace overlooks the rinks and the lake beyond.

“It is a great opportunity and a huge responsibility to do truly public work in New York City. Lakeside welcomes everyone,” said Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, TWBTA co-founders and architects of the LeFrak Center. “It is a place in Prospect Park where generations of children will have fun and where memories will be made. Everyone who worked on this project has been committed to this vision and it has been an honor for us to be a part of this transformation."

“The LeFrak Center at Lakeside will become a borough icon, serving as an important community hub and recreational amenity for New York City families while helping to attract the talent that is critical to our City’s success,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Kyle Kimball. “The New York City Economic Development Corporation is proud to have spearheaded construction of the LeFrak Center, making a strong public-private partnership visible by building a facility that New Yorkers will enjoy for years to come.”

The environmentally-friendly qualities of the site include: the open-air design of the rinks; a high efficiency ammonia refrigeration system which will significantly reduce year round-energy needs; landscaped buildings, including a green roof; and the installation of a 15,000-gallon cistern, which will ensure that all stormwater in the 26-acre Lakeside area is captured and re-used for parkland irrigation.

Phase 1 of the Lakeside project included the re-creation of Music Island and the Esplanade, two elements that were part of the original design for the space and were dismantled with the construction of the Wollman Rink in 1960. Some of the key features beyond the rebuilt and restored Music Island included improved pedestrian pathways, expanded picnic areas, walkways and open lawns, a new promenade along the lakeshore for walkers and joggers, a new boat dock, a café and a seating area open all year. Phase 1 was completed in October of 2012.

The Lakeside project exemplifies the success that a public-private partnership can bring in making a great park greater, having been funded through a mix of public and private dollars. Roughly $54 million in public funding for the project was allocated by City, State and Federal officials, including over $46 million from the City. The Prospect Park Alliance raised the remaining $20 million from donors, foundations and corporations, including $10 million from the Leon Levy Foundation.

In addition, following a $10 million donation from the LeFrak family in November, the Prospect Park Alliance and the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation announced that the rink would be named the Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center at Lakeside. This funding will go toward the maintenance and upkeep of Lakeside and the surrounding areas of the Prospect Park.

Entry to Lakeside is free and open to the public, with an admission fee associated with skating and skating-related services. Hours, admission and skate prices, educational opportunities, and other basic information can be found at The LeFrak Center will be operated by Upsilon Ventures, following a request for proposals process that commenced in 2012.

About the Prospect Park Alliance

The Prospect Park Alliance partners with the City of New York and the community to make Prospect Park the beautiful place Brooklynites know and love. The Alliance cares for the natural environment, preserves historic designs, provide facilities and hosts events, programs and activities throughout the year for all New Yorkers. For more information on Prospect Park programs, volunteering and membership, call the Park Hotline at (718) 965-8999, or visit

About NYC Parks

NYC Parks is the steward of more than 29,000 acres of land – 14 percent of New York City – including more than 5,000 individual properties ranging from Coney Island Beach and Central Park to community gardens and Greenstreets. We operate more than 800 athletic fields and nearly 1,000 playgrounds, 550 tennis courts, 66 public pools, 48 recreational facilities, 17 nature centers, 13 golf courses, 9 ice rinks, and 14 miles of beaches. We care for 1,200 monuments and 23 historic house museums. We look after 650,000 street trees, and two million more in parks. We are New York City's principal providers of recreational and athletic facilities and programs. We are home to free concerts, world-class sports events, and cultural festivals.

About Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects

Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects ( was founded in 1986 in New York City by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. The studio focuses on work for institutions - museums, schools and non-profits. Their buildings are carefully made and useful in ways that speak to both efficiency and the spirit. A sense of rootedness, light, texture, detail, and most of all experience are at the heart of what they build. Their compelling body of work includes the American Folk Art Museum, the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, and the new US Embassy in Mexico City.


Marc La Vorgna / Christina Giaccone (212) 788-2958

Arthur Pincus / Meghan Lalor (Parks) (212) 360-1311

Farrell Sklerov (Prospect Park/Rubenstein) (212) 843-8289

Rachel Judlowe (Prospect Park/EHKPR) (212) 951-1895