Yonkers to get Legoland, center brings 200 jobs

A family made of Lego bricks rests at A family made of Lego bricks rests at a bench at the Legoland theme park in Guenzburg, Germany. (May 15, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Attraction company Merlin Entertainments plans to hire more than 200 people for its Legoland Discovery Center in Yonkers, the nation's fifth Legoland Discovery Center and New York's first.

The $12 million attraction will open in late spring of 2013 and will employ managers, marketers, salespeople and "master model builders," the Lego enthusiasts responsible for "iconic buildings represented in Lego," said Janine DiGioacchino, a director for the entertainment company.

The center will occupy a 33,000-square-foot space in Ridge Hill, the mammoth outdoor shopping center that was the centerpiece of the recent corruption trials against former Yonkers City Councilwoman Sandy Annabi and former Republican Committee Chairman Zehy Jereis.

Legoland resorts are open near San Diego and Orlando, Fla.; the smaller and less expensive Discovery Centers are operated in Kansas City, Mo.; Dallas/Fort Worth; Atlanta; and near Chicago. Resorts and Discovery Centers also are open in Europe and Japan.

Why Yonkers?

"We're constantly doing site searches all over the U.S. and we had narrowed down New York as one of the places we wanted to open a Legoland Discovery Center," DiGioacchino said. "This fit our demographic of being a residential market close to a city center."

The company expects more than 350,000 visitors in the center's first year, DiGioacchino said. Ticket prices will range from $10 to $20.

Unlike Lego stores, discovery centers feature play areas, "pools" filled with soft Lego bricks, class areas, rides and exhibits, DeGioacchino said. Each center's exhibits are unique to the area it serves -- the Yonkers center will feature buildings that "reflect the Manhattan skyline," including Lego versions of the Empire State Building and the new Freedom Tower, which is still under construction.

The Lego Discovery Center joins a roster at Ridge Hill that includes several restaurants; mall staples like Old Navy, H&M and the GAP; a Guitar Center; and a movie theater.

Messages were left but not returned Tuesday with Ridge Hill management and the Yonkers Chamber of Commerce.

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