Lower Manhattan’s Local News
Cuomo Vetoes Legislation Sought by HRPT to Allow Development on Pier 40
On New Year’s Eve, Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill passed earlier this year by both houses of the State legislature that would have allowed limited commercial development on Pier 40, the massive former cruise ship terminal on the Hudson River waterfront, adjacent to Houston Street, which covers 14 acres and now houses athletic and recreational facilities.
Such development would have helped to fund operations for the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT), which oversees the four-mile-long riverfront park that stretches from the Battery to West 59th Street.
“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 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, 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) added 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.”
But Governor Cuomo disagreed. In a memorandum accompanying his veto, he wrote, “while the current bill would authorize additional commercial uses at Pier 40, there are proponents and opponents of the expansion of such commercial uses on what has been a largely recreational pier.”
He continued, “Pier 40 is a valuable asset to the surrounding community offering recreational space in an area of the City that is more and more congested, home to an increasing number of young families requiring recreation space. The pier also is a rare asset in its proximity to the magnificent Hudson River. The justification for development is to provide additional money for the Hudson [River] Park. Money is always the rationale to develop sites in Manhattan, hence the lack of open space, green areas, parks or recreation space. We have so few remaining parcels available for community use.”
In specific terms, the legislation that Mr. Cuomo vetoed would have increased 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 HRPT.)
The language of the vetoed law also mandated 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 have increased 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.
In lieu of these income streams, Governor Cuomo has offered the prospect of another financial lifeline. In his veto memorandum, he noted that, “there have been several attempts to move the tow pound currently used by the City of New York at Pier 76 [in the West 30s, adjacent to the Javits Convention Center] to allow for additional development. Indeed, the [Hudson River Park Act] currently states that the City, once it has vacated the tow pound, will transfer the pier to the State for use as part of the Park. It is wholly underutilized and has tremendous potential and the site must be maximized…. I will work on legislation that will ensure that the Park will finally have access to Pier 76, which will ensure Pier 40 reaches its full potential.”
Even without the legislation vetoed by Mr. Cuomo, the HPRT has other significant sources of revenue. A large new residential and retail complex will soon rise on the site of St. John’s Terminal, a former rail freight facility adjacent to Pier 40 (straddling Houston Street, stretching from Vandam to Clarkson Streets). This project would not have been possible without a transfer of 200,000 square feet of air rights from Pier 40, for which the HPRT was paid $100 million. This payout is expected to cover most of the cost of rehabilitating the underwater supporting structure of Pier 40, which has been deteriorating for decades. Work on shoring up the Pier (estimated to cost $104 million) began in late 2018.
But significant additional air rights remain within Pier 40. Although it would be difficult for HPRT to sell these to another developer outside of the Park (its enabling legislation bans transfers more than one block away from the waterfront), these rights could allow the development of new space on the Pier itself.
Apart from possible development at Pier 40, the Trust also expects to derive significant revenue from the imminent redevelopment of Pier 57, near 15th Street, where Google has signed on as an anchor tenant. The planned office-and-retail complex, which will encompass 480,000 square feet of space, which will eventually contribute several million dollars per year to the HRPT’s balance sheet.
At the Park’s southern extremity, HPRT officials have spoken publicly about the possibility of selling unused air rights from the Park’s Tribeca section to any possible redevelopment of the Borough of Manhattan Community College Campus.
Overall, the Trust estimates that is already has commitments for approximately $426 million of the $617 million it will need to complete the Park in the next ten years, or some 69 percent of the total. These have come from sources such as air rights sales, private donations, and appropriations from the City and State.
The remaining gap of $189 million, or 31 percent of the total cost, would be more than half bridged by a $100-million allocation that the State and City announced in 2018. But, with a remaining deficit of almost $90 million, this subsidy would not, by itself, quite live up to the billing of “finishing the Hudson River Park” that Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have boasted of.
Wherever the funding to complete the Park comes from, however, allocating resources to HPRT appears to be a sound investment. A 2016 analysis from the Regional Plan Association (RPA) concluded that the $720 million earmarked for the Hudson River Park since construction began in 1998 has yielded $1.121 billion in indirect economic benefits for New York City (as well as another $305 million in similar benefits for the State as a whole), while new building projects adjacent to the Park represent one-fourth of all the newly created square feet of property in Manhattan built between 2000 and 2014. During those years, RPA also concluded, property tax contributions within the Hudson River Park neighborhood grew 28 percent faster than in Manhattan as a whole. The same report also noted that the Park directly generates more than 3,000 full- and part-time jobs — a figure that is projected to swell to approximately 5,000 jobs over in the next few years.
Preservation of the Rector Street Bridge
The Rector Street Bridge is the second item on the agenda of Community Board 1’s Transportation Committee on Tuesday January 7th at 6pm at 1 Centre Street, Room 2202A. It may be your final chance to take a stand for the preservation of the Rector Street Bridge. You are welcomed to attend.
You may also email your thoughts and opinion to email@example.com which will be forwarded to electeds and decision-makers.
Finally, you may add your name to the on-line save-the-bridge petition at http://chng.it/5Vyjt4dk. To date, there have been a total of 2,459 signatures.
Wishing all good fortune in the New Year!!
Rector Street Bridge
To the editor:
Proposed Removal of Rector Street Pedestrian Bridge
I oppose this removal, it is a daily amenity and convenience, and the reasons for removal are not sufficient, under the usual ‘balancing of the equities’ tests of competing interests; and the stated reasons are simply not credible, so are there unstated reasons?
We are looking at $4M, surely this money has better use. Maybe a rebate to residents?
I walk this bridge multiple times daily and surely hundreds of others.
Stated reasons include recovery of footprint on the Battery Park side of West Street, for expanded athletic fields, yet such expansion can ALSO be by compromise (1) remove the long ramp north side, not handicap accessible anyway, for years, since the east side elevator was disabled years ago, so the handicap argument fails and there is the new bridge; (2) leave the stair tower south side, a minuscule footprint in comparison, proposed to be replaced by shrubbery planting area 50 sq ft?, NOT expanded athletics, a bad balancing, minuscule, plantings, vs hundreds of people and pedestrian access WITH expanded playing field access northerly.
(3) Leave redundant cross-highway pedestrian access, always a plus.
(4) The hypothetical need for city-side West Street subsurface infrastructure access seems a newly discovered even contrived issue, this applies to any structure anywhere.
(5) Sidewalk pedestrian traffic congestion city-side West Street, is also contrived, the footings are a minimal bottleneck, there is minimal sidewalk level pedestrian traffic or destination there; my daily experience is NOT of congestion. And again, balancing of equities, residents/ bridge vs transients/ sidewalk favors retention.
(6) We are told NYC Economic Development Corporation conditioned the new Thames bridge on this removal; if so, let us see the documents and then have a discussion with EDC; this temporary post 911 bridge has become quite permanent in daily usage. Things change.
(7) Then there is the matter of this midwinter haste, I doubt RFPs exist for demolition or new playing fields, so this will likely take years beyond planning, as did the Thames bridge, so at least leave the bridge until there is actual readiness.
(8) This of course goes to litigation, and I am told. “the law abhors a waste.’ ie unneeded destruction.
Eyes to the Sky
January 6 – 19, 2020
Sun’s New Year, dawn and dusk planets
Since the winter solstice, December 21, I have been particularly attentive to the Sun as it sets into the skyline to the southwest. Even though I know that the Sun is setting about a minute later everyday, I am impressed to notice that the location of the setting Sun has inched more westerly. By the time of Vernal Equinox, March 19, sunset will be due west. Sunset today, the 6th, is at 4:43:33pm., an increase of 15 minutes from the earliest sunset on December 8th. Picking up momentum, we will experience a 14-minute gain of afternoon sunlight by January 19, when sunset time is 4:57:28pm.
Sunrise today, 7:20:13am in the southeast, is within seconds of the latest of the year, to occur all this week. By the 19th, the Sun will rise 4 minutes earlier and, going forward to the end of January, sunrise will be about a minute earlier every morning. During this time of morning darkness, go to a dark sky location to catch sight of the wonderful Scorpion, a nighttime constellation in summer. Look southeast at least an hour before sunrise to see the whole figure of Scorpius along with red planet Mars, above on the 7th and moving closer toward the horizon everyday. Red star Antares, the heart of the Scorpion, is a bit brighter than Mars. Antares, according to H.A. Rey, is Greek for “rival of Mars.” I have also seen it described as “simulating Mars (in color).” In light polluted areas, only Antares might be visible in the southeast until a picturesque crescent moon approaches Antares and Mars on the 19th and hovers above Mars on the 20th. Look with binoculars for improved visibility.
Moving along to the evening sky, planet Venus shines above the point of sunset. As twilight deepens, winter star Fomalhaut, “mouth of the Fish,” appears to the planet’s left. At nightfall, orange Deneb Kaitos, of the faint constellation Cetus the Whale (or Sea Monster) is clearly visible to the left and above Fomalhaut. Deneb Kaitos is dimmer than Fomalhaut but it is a solitary star in this area of the sky. Again, look with binoculars if your sky is hazed over by light pollution.
Upcoming Community Board Meetings This Week
Tuesday Jan 7
Transportation & Street Activity Permits Committee
Wednesday January 8
Battery Park City Committee
Licensing & Permits Committee
Community Board 1 – Conference Room 1 Centre Street, Room 2202A-North
Additional information available by request to the Community Board 1 Office firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday January 9
Landmarks & Preservation Committee
Click here for any changes to agendas prior to the meeting dates.
Today in History
1066 – Following the death of Edward the Confessor on the previous day, the Witan meets to confirm Harold Godwinson as the new King of England; Harold is crowned the same day, sparking a succession crisis that will eventually lead to the Norman conquest of England.
1540 – King Henry VIII of England marries Anne of Cleves.
1721 – The Committee of Inquiry on the South Sea Bubble publishes its findings, revealing details of fraud among company directors and corrupt politicians.
1839 – The Night of the Big Wind, the most damaging storm in 300 years, sweeps across Ireland, damaging or destroying more than 20% of the houses in Dublin.
1847 – Samuel Colt obtains his first contract for the sale of revolver pistols to the United States government.
1907 – Maria Montessori opens her first school and daycare center for working class children in Rome, Italy.
1912 – New Mexico is admitted to the Union as the 47th U.S. state.
1912 – On this day in 1912, German geophysicist Alfred Wegener first presents his theory of continental drift. Born in Berlin in 1880, he was the youngest of five children. His first notion of continental drift occurred to him by noticing that the different large landmasses of the Earth almost fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. The continental shelf of the Americas fits closely to Africa and Europe. Antarctica, Australia, India and Madagascar fit next to the tip of Southern Africa.
He presented his Continental Drift hypothesis on January 6, 1912. He analyzed both sides of the Atlantic Ocean for rock type, geological structures and fossils. He noticed that there was a significant similarity between matching sides of the continents, especially in fossil plants.
His main interest however, was in meteorology and polar research and involved expeditions to Greenland to study polar air circulation before the existence of the jet stream was accepted. Wegener died in Greenland during his fourth expedition in November 1930 while returning from an expedition to bring food to a group of researchers camped in the middle of an icecap.
In his work, Wegener presented a large amount of observational evidence in support of continental drift, but the mechanism remained a problem, partly because Wegener’s estimate of the velocity of continental motion, 250 cm/year, was too high. The currently accepted rate for the separation of the Americas from Europe and Africa is about 2.5 cm/year.
1930 – The first diesel-powered automobile trip is completed, from Indianapolis, Indiana, to New York, New York.
1941 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers his Four Freedoms speechin the State of the Union address.
1947 – Pan American Airlines becomes the first commercial airline to offer a round-the-world ticket.
1960 – National Airlines Flight 2511 is destroyed in mid-air by a bomb, while en route from New York City to Miami.
1974 – In response to the 1973 oil crisis, daylight saving time commences nearly four months early in the United States.
1989 – Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh are sentenced to death for conspiracy in the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi; the two men are executed the same day.
1995 – A chemical fire in an apartment complex in Manila, Philippines, leads to the discovery of plans for Project Bojinka, a mass-terrorist attack.
1256 – Gertrude the Great, German mystic (d. 1302)
1412 – Joan of Arc, French martyr and saint (d. 1431)
1745 – Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier, French co-inventor of the hot air balloon (d. 1799)
1878 – Carl Sandburg, American poet and historian (d. 1967)
1882 – Sam Rayburn, American lawyer and politician, 48th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives (d. 1961)
1883 – Kahlil Gibran, Lebanese-American poet, painter, and philosopher (d. 1931)
1920 – John Maynard Smith, English biologist and geneticist (d. 2004)
1925 – John DeLorean, American engineer and businessman, founded the DeLorean Motor Company (d. 2005)
1931 – E. L. Doctorow, American novelist, playwright, and short story writer (d. 2015)
1350 – Giovanni I di Murta, second doge of the Republic of Genoa
1358 – Gertrude van der Oosten, Beguine mystic
1537 – Alessandro de’ Medici, Duke of Florence (b. 1510)
1852 – Louis Braille, French educator, invented Braille (b. 1809)
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades ~ Respectable Employment ~ Lost & Found
IT AND SECURITY SUPPORT
Experienced IT technician. Expertise in 1-on-1 tutoring for all ages.Computer upgrading & troubleshooting. Knowledgeable in all software programs.
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CERTIFIED HOME HEALTH AIDE SEEKING
Full-Time Live-In Elder Care
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ELDER CARE NURSE AIDE
with 17 years experience seeks PT/FT work. Refs available Call or text 718 496 6232 Dian
Available starting September for PT/FT.
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Available for PT/FT elder care. Experienced. References Angella
EXPERIENCED ELDER CARE
Able to prepare nutritious meals and light housekeeping
Excellent references 12yrs experienced 347-898-5804
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If you would like to place a listing, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Train to the Plane
A Convenient Connection to the Airport Visible from Lower Manhattan Rooftops May Be Less Than Ten Years Away
The Regional Plan Association recently partnered with the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association to build support for a proposed rail connection between Lower Manhattan and Newark Airport. A report the two organizations produced together, “Taking the PATH to Newark Airport,” summarizes the potential and the prospects for such a link, which local leaders have long pushed for.
Plan Floated to Span East River with Arch Containing Thousands of Apartments and New Transit Portal
To those who claim that the age of monumental public works and historic pieces of civic infrastructure has ended in New York, Scott Baker has a succinct answer: “Not if I have anything to say about it.”
Cass Gilbert and the Evolution of the New York Skyscraper
by John Simko
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