Bridge Too Far

St. John’s Terminal project scraps big-box retail and train platform park

Development East
An old rendering showing the elevated park, which now won't be a part of the proposed project.(Courtesy CookFOX Architects)
An old rendering showing the elevated park, which now won't be a part of the proposed project.(Courtesy CookFOX Architects)

Westbrook Partners and Atlas Capital have scrapped their plans for big-box retail at St. John’s Terminal in Hudson Square, along with their plans to turn a defunct elevated train platform into a public park. The changes come in response to concerns over the development’s impact on the neighborhood expressed by community members and the City Planning Commission.

Instead, the developers have settled on a minimum of four retail spaces on the ground floor at West Houston and three retail spaces on the ground floor at Clarkson Street. They plan to remove the railway tracks entirely, opting for an open space on the ground level with plants and seating between the proposed five buildings, according to DNAinfo. No changes were made regarding the amount of proposed parking.

Originally, the Hudson River Park Trust struck a deal with the developers to transfer 200,000 square feet of Pier 40’s air rights to the developers across the street for $100 million, as reported by The Architect’s Newspaper, with plans to use the money to repair the deteriorating 15-acre pier, which is sinking into the Hudson River. The air rights were only valued at $75 million, according to Crain’s New York Business, and the deal was contingent upon a successful Urban Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).

Now that the deal is moving along, Westbrook Partners is on the hunt for a developer partner to kick in a $100 million to convert the terminal to a 1.7 million-square-foot office and residential complex, as reported by The Real Deal.

In addition, the developers promised a 10,000 square-foot indoor recreation space in their revisions of the project, which would be available to the public half of the time it is open. According to the developer’s letter to the City Planning Commission, the space would be outfitted for “various ball sports, martial arts, or fitness classes,” and include bathrooms and storage, but the developers would be able to charge a fee for access “to cover overhead and maintenance.”

Community board chair Tobi Bergman told DNAinfo that this last amendment a “disappointing one.”

“You’re still always going to feel like you’re in a condo amenity space where you don’t belong,” Bergman said.

Westbrook has owned St. John’s Terminal for several years, leasing it out as office space, and owns several commercial properties in the city. The firm became the majority stakeholder in the St. John’s Terminal development when it bought out one of its partners, Fortress Investors, for $200 million last year, as reported by Crain’s New York Business.

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