The controversial lower west side project, Pier55, just got the green light from the New York State Supreme Court this past Friday, April 8, to continue moving ahead. Last spring, the City Club of New York (a nonprofit organization) filed a lawsuit against Pier55 Inc. and HRPT to stop the project. Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller are major funders of the planned $130 million, 2.7 acre island of public space off of the lower west side of Manhattan. They established the nonprofit organization Pier55 Inc., and are working in a public-private partnership with the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT). U.K. based firm Heatherwick Studio (known stateside for their collaborating with Bjarke Ingels Group on Google’s planned Mountain View headquarters) and landscape architecture firm, Signe Nielsen, are designing the project.
The City Club believes the project will hurt wildlife and is against public interest. “The project would require driving about 550 piles in an area of the Hudson protected as an estuarine sanctuary,” the City Club wrote in an AN op-ed published this January. “Diller and von Furstenberg would receive a 30-year lease to operate the island as a performing arts venue and naming rights to the island in perpetuity.”
In response, the Pier55 team wrote a letter to the editor, published this early February on the AN blog: “The project has also been through a rigorous and transparent environmental review process and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has already determined that an Environmental Impact Statement is not required,” said the Pier55 development team. “It must also be noted that Pier55’s 2.7-acre size is within the scope of what is allowed based on a 2013 law amending the state’s Hudson River Park Act. This amendment, crafted based on input from the local community board and other stakeholders, allowed HRPT to rebuild the former pier outside its original footprint.”
Construction is expected to start this spring, with an opening in 2019.