Pier55 prevails in court, construction to continue on Barry Diller-funded offshore park

Posted On Thu, September 8, 2016 By

Posted On Thu, September 8, 2016 By In Architecture, Landscape Architecture

All systems are go for the Barry Diller-funded Pier55 park, as a State Appellate court ruled today that work can continue on the 2.75-acre project sited along the Hudson River. As 6sqft previously reported, the main opponent of the park—better known as The City Club of New York—has been aiming to thwart the project under the claim that those involved, namely the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) and Pier55 Inc. (the nonprofit manager established by Diller), failed to go through adequate environmental impact evaluations. City Club served the pair with a lawsuit that eventually led to a stop work order in June. However, an appeals court lifted the stop work order shortly after, and by the end of August, the first nine piles were installed.

Today’s ruling upholds a lower court’s decision that HRPT and Pier55 Inc. did in fact do a proper environmental review, and moreover, that HRPT was not required to put out an RFP to solicit other ideas for the site from other developers—another major point of contention. The court also decided that the park reserves the right to use the space for non-public events like ticketed concerts, although it is noted that “the lease requires that 51 percent of the performances be free or low-cost.”

As written in the court’s decision:

“The Trust took the requisite ‘hard look’ at the project’s anticipated adverse environmental impacts, and provided a ‘reasoned elaboration’ for the negative declaration, and its determination was not arbitrary and capricious, unsupported by the evidence, or a violation of law. The Trust’s use of the previously permitted 2005 Pier 54 rebuild design as the ‘no action’ alternative in its SEQRA analysis was ‘not irrational, an abuse of discretion, or arbitrary and capricious and, consequently, should not be disturbed’. The existing record indicates that the Trust adequately considered the cumulative impacts of the Pier 55 project and the nearby Pier 57 project in issuing the negative declaration.

“[The City Club of New York] Petitioners lack standing to object to the Trust’s failure 50 to issue any bid prospectus with respect to the Pier 55 lease, since they never alleged before the article 78 court that they had the wherewithal to submit a plausible competing bid or that, having suitable resources and expertise, they would have done so. We reject petitioners’ contention that they need not state what their bid would be since the Trust failed to state what the prospectus would have looked like. Although there is no prospectus, the record contains a detailed statement of the Pier 55 project, with projected costs and the amounts to be contributed by PIER55’s philanthropic principals. Accordingly, petitioners have sufficient information to make a bid.”

Pier 55, Hudson River Park Trust, Barry Diller

Pier 55, Hudson River Park Trust, Barry Diller

A spokesperson for the project said, “We are grateful for the court’s decision and are pleased to be back on our fall construction schedule, which will make Pier55 a reality for all New Yorkers.”

But the story doesn’t end there. According to DNA Info, The City Club of New York plans to appeal to a higher court. Action is expected to be taken within the next 30 days.

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