In April this year, British architect Thomas Heatherwick‘s Pier55 project was given the go-ahead from the New York State Supreme Court. Back then, all looked good for the $130 million, 2.7 acre island of public space located off of the lower west side of Manhattan. Now, construction is to be delayed after the court has allowed opponents of the project more time for their case to be prepared.
The result of an injunction issued by the New York State Appellate Division, the Hudson River scheme is likely to restart construction by September at the earliest. Notable opponents to Pier55—which is backed by Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg—include the City Club of New York, who penned a letter published by AN in opposition of the project, activist Tom Fox, and environmentalist Rob Buchanan.
“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.”
“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 in reply. “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.”
In April, as mentioned earlier, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Joan Lobis ruled that The City Club’s claims to be “without merit“. “It would appear that a significant purpose of maintaining event spaces in the Park is to generate funds for the ongoing upkeep of the Park, which is surely a park purpose,” said Lobis.
In light of the recent injunction, City Club President Michael Gruen issued a statement said the move was a “valuable step in ensuring that this secretive and misguided project will not get off the ground.”