Hudson River tow pound at Pier 76 to open as a public park in June

March 24, 2021

All photos courtesy of NY State Parks on Flickr

A former New York City Police Department tow-pound on the Hudson River will open as a public park this summer, more than 20 years after the state designated the lot as future open space. Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday said work at Pier 76 has already begun, with an expected opening date as early as June 1. The plan for the 5.6-acre park aligns with the governor’s ambitious $51 billion redevelopment of over 100 acres of Midtown West, announced earlier this year.

“COVID highlighted the importance of outdoor recreational spaces for New Yorkers, and it is critical that we expand open space as we continue to build back better,” Cuomo said. “After more than 20 years of inaction, the transformation of Pier 76 will convert a blight on Manhattan’s western shore into a crown jewel for the Hudson River Park and create a beloved urban recreational space that will be enjoyed by all for generations to come.”

Cuomo said demolition work, which includes stripping the tow pound to its frame and removing the sides and roof, began on Monday. The original steel frame will remain as part of the $20 million park, which will also require repaving and installation of railings and lighting.

“It’s going to be architecturally interesting because it has this steel skeleton that will remain that was constructed in the ’60s,” Cuomo said during a press briefing. “It will be entirely open and a great passive recreation area.”

According to the governor, the site measures about 245,000 square feet, or about four football fields, and extends 725 feet into the river. The public park that opens in June will be temporary, with more permanent plans set to be developed by the Hudson River Park Trust with insight from the community.

Pier 76, originally built in the 1960s for loading barges, has been used as a tow pound by the NYPD since 1977. When the New York State legislature passed the Hudson River Park Act in 1998, officially designating four miles of the waterfront as park space, lawmakers included the relocation of the tow pound in their mandate.

Enacted 23 years ago, the Hudson River Park Act reads: “Subsequent to the relocation of the tow pound, the city of New York shall convey to the trust a possessory interest in fifty percent of Pier 76 for passive and active public open space use…”

An amendment to the Act required the city to transfer possession of the site to the state, but it wasn’t until the end of this January that the site was vacated by the NYPD. Hudson River Park Trust will lease the pier from NY State Parks.

Located across from the Jacob K. Javits Center, Pier 76 sits in an important area for the governor’s Midtown West redevelopment plan. Cuomo’s proposal includes replacing the Port Authority Bus Terminalextending the High Line, creating 1,400 units of affordable housing, and building the Empire Station Complex, which would link an upgraded Penn Station, the newly opened Moynihan Train Hall, and a possible new terminal one block south of Penn Station.

Earlier this month, the Empire State Development issued a request for proposals for a site across from Javits, which is currently undergoing a $1.5 billion expansion of its own. According to the state’s RFP, the proposal could be commercial or mixed-use development, with interest in hotels that are “complementary” to the neighboring convention center, as 6sqft previously reported.

The proposed High Line extension would run from 34th Street and 12th Avenue past the Javits Center and cross the West End Highway, ending at Pier 76.

In February, the Trust issued three requests for proposals for the construction of a 5.5-acre public park on the Gansevoort Peninsula, to be home to a resilient “beach” with kayak access, a sports field, scenic lounge spots, and a large public art installation. Pier 26 opened last September and includes 2.5 acres of indigenous plants, recreation fields, and an impressive man-made rocky tidal marsh, and a cantilevered walkway.

Upcoming projects included Little Island at Pier 55, which has a spring opening datePier 57 with Google as the anchor tenant, Pier 97, and the reconfiguration of Chelsea Waterside Park.

“Pier 76 is going to be a wonderful resource for residents of Chelsea, Clinton and Midtown communities, who have been waiting patiently for this to happen,” Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said in a press release. “Pier 76 will join the other facilities of Hudson River Park as destinations for safe, healthy, and family-friendly outdoor recreation, with spectacular urban and waterfront views.”


All photos courtesy of NY State Parks on Flickr

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