POLL: Are you in favor of the Pier 55 offshore park moving ahead?

Posted On Wed, September 7, 2016 By

Posted On Wed, September 7, 2016 By In Meatpacking District, Polls, Urban Design

As of late last month, summer construction work on the Barry Diller-funded Pier 55 was complete, with the first nine piles propping up the offshore park having been installed. It seemed as though all systems were a go at the $130 million futuristic park, but yesterday 6sqft reported that The City Club of New York, the civic group who was behind an earlier lawsuit and stop work order, may have a backer in none other than Douglas Durst.

And today the Wall Street Journal shares that opponents had their first day in front a panel of state appellate-court judges to express environmental concerns and frustrations that the initial planning between billionaire Diller and the Hudson River Park Trust was done behind closed doors. What are your thoughts on the issue?

It was June of 2015 when Pier 55 got slapped with its first lawsuit from The City Club of New York, which stated, “Diller and the Hudson River Park Trust had failed to thoroughly evaluate the environmental impact of the 2.7-acre park, claiming that it would wipeout local species such as the American eel and shortnose sturgeon.'” A judge dismissed the case this past April, and after a brief setback in June, work commenced in July.

Though he wouldn’t confirm nor deny his involvement in financing the lawsuits, Douglas Durst did say, “I do not like the process or the project and I am in favor of the litigation,” seemingly agreeing with The City’s Club’s lawyer Richard D. Emery’s argument that the Trust should’ve “sought other potential developers, rather than simply handing such a valuable site over to Mr. Diller,” who is a billionaire media mogul and husband to fashion designer Diane Von Furstenburg.

Other claims made by Emery in today’s hearing are that the park would block views of the river and create “a privatization of the area, giving Mr. Diller the ability to earn money from the sale of recordings of live concerts at the park.” He also said that the park, in combination with Google’s headquarters on 15th Street, will create traffic that the area can’t handle: “It’s going to be mass hysteria in that locality, and nobody’s studied it.” The Trust’s lawyer David Paget countered that Pier 55 is a charitable organization and all revenue will go back into the park. He also said they conducted all environmental studies required by law.

Durst was once the chairman of Friends of Hudson River Park, the fundraising arm of the Hudson River Park Trust, but when a new chief executive took over in 2011, he was pushed out as the focus shifted to wealthy donors over advocacy. Diller believes this left Durst harboring a grudge against the project.

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