Pier 55 Floating Park Moves Forward with a Lease Deal

Posted On Thu, February 12, 2015 By

Posted On Thu, February 12, 2015 By In Landscape Architecture, Meatpacking District, Urban Design

Last we heard about Pier55–the 2.4-acre futuristic floating park and performance space proposed by billionaire media mogul Barry Diller that would jut 186 feet into the Hudson at 13th Street–Community Board 2 had mixed feelings about the project. They liked Thomas Heatherwick’s design, but cited concern over the lack of transparency from Diller and the Hudson River Park Trust.

Despite these feelings, though, we’ve learned today from the Times that the Trust approved a lease agreement with Pier 55 Inc., a nonprofit group controlled by Diller, to help develop the $130 million public space. Diller has already pledged $113 million toward the project through the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation (his wife is fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg). So, what’s next?

Pier 55, Hudson River Park Trust, Barry Diller

In addition to concerns over transparency, environmentalists, including the group Riverkeeper, have called for a full environmental review of the project, as it would be constructed in an undisturbed area of the river that’s a designated estuarine sanctuary. Concerns include storm water runoff, damage to the river sediment after driving in hundreds of new piles, and the impact from a new shady area. Instead of submitting a full environmental impact statement, the Trust completed an environmental assessment form, which has fewer requirements. Before the park can break ground in 2016 as scheduled, both the Army Corps of Engineers and the State Department of Environmental Conservation must sign off on the new pier.

Pier 55, Hudson River Park Trust, Barry Diller

The other set of concerns comes from financial issues. In recent years, the Hudson River Park Trust has had financial setbacks, including those arising from Pier 40 at Houston Street. It’s become so deteriorated that it now requires $100 million in repairs, but with no luck finding a development proposal, the Trust is now looking to fund repairs through the sale of development rights. Though Diller’s support will fund the park for 20 years and a possible additional ten, there is no set financial plan following that time. Madelyn Wils, President of the Trust, said she felt confident that “all the protections we need to make sure the project is financed” were in place.

[Related: Community Board Likes Pier55 Floating Park Overall, but Wants More Transparency]

[Related: Thomas Heatherwick Reveals the Inspiration Behind Pier 55 Floating Park]

[Related: Barry Diller Pledges $130M for Futuristic Offshore Park on the West Side]

[Via NYT]

All renderings via Heatherwick Studio

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Neighborhoods : Meatpacking District

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