The 14-acre former cruise ship terminal situated along the Hudson River waterfront, near West Houston Street, has evolved into a much-prized recreational facility.
Among the elected officials expected to attend tonight are U.S. Congressman Jerry Nadler, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, State Assembly member Deborah Glick, and State Senators Brian Kavanagh and Brad Hoylman.
The meeting, which will focus on proposed revisions to the enabling legislation that governs operation of the Hudson River Park, will take place at MS 297, located at 75 Morton Street (between Hudson and Greenwich Streets), from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. Admission is free and the public are invited to participate, but space is limited, so anyone wishing to attend will be accommodated on a first-come, first served basis. For more information, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Because the Hudson River Park was created through New York State legislation in 1998,” explains State Assembly member Deborah Glick, “there are specific allowable Park uses, and regulations governing development that may generate revenue for the Park in addition to the allocation of City, State, and Federal dollars. Pier 40 is one of the commercial nodes permitted to generate additional revenue for the Park.”
“It is imperative that if any changes are made to the Hudson River Park Actthat will allow for future development at Pier 40, they must evoke the desires of the greater community of residents and park users while also contributing to the financial stability of the Park in the future,” she observes. “My colleagues and I have worked this year to find a suitable solution to the issues at Pier 40.” She notes that proposed amendments that will be discussed this evening are the product of, “many months of community input.”
“Pier 40 is a very key element of the Hudson River Park,” noted Paul Goldstein, who chairs the Waterfront Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1), at an April 26 meeting. “It not only serves many communities with recreational facilities, including our leagues down here, but it is also one of the designated sites to generate revenue for the Park, which is supposed to maintain itself and pay for future development.”
“Coming up with a plan to maintain that flow of cash and to continue to improve that pier is vital, but it has been a very difficult issue,” he continued. Community Board 2 (CB2), which has jurisdiction over Pier 40, “has turned down at least two development proposals that they found inappropriate. Following that, there has been discussion with CB2 and some of the local elected officials about a tentative plan to put commercial office space on the Pier. That seemed to be the use that the different entities had some common agreement on.”
Connie Fishman, the executive director of Hudson River Park Friends (who previously served as the HRPT’s president and chief executive officer) explains that, “Pier 40 is already a commercial development, with a large commercial parking garage, that has ballfields in the ‘hole of the donut.’ The proposed change to the Hudson River Park Act would modify the lease term and the uses allowed for future development.”
In specific terms, the amendments slated for discussion this evening would increase the amount of permissible office space within Pier 40 to 700,000 square feet, with no part of the structure rising to a height greater than 85 feet. (Of this total, some 100,000 square feet would be set aside for offices and operations space for the Hudson River Park Trust.)
The language of the proposed changes also mandates that, “any proposal for development or redevelopment shall give preference to adaptive re-use of the historical structure located on the Pier,” and that, “any new structure erected shall maintain a public open perimeter waterside walkway surrounding the entirety of the Pier.” It also calls for, “playing fields no less than exist on the pier as of the effective date of this act.”
In another major change, the proposed legislative revisions would increase the potential length of any lease that HRPT is authorized to give a developer at Pier 40, from the current maximum of 30 years, to a new limit of 49 years, along with the option of one 25-year renewal (for a total of 74 years). This has been a key sticking point in previous attempts to attract developers to Pier 40. In multiple rounds of negotiation over the past decade, several prospective partners have walked away, arguing that 30 years is not enough time to earn back the significant up-front investment that development at Pier 40 would require.