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Fight over Pier 55 continues with court appeal and new permits

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Fight over Pier 55 continues with court appeal and new permits. Pictured here: Pier 55 (Courtesy Heatherwick Studio)
Fight over Pier 55 continues with court appeal and new permits. Pictured here: Pier 55 (Courtesy Heatherwick Studio)

The fight over Pier 55 continues: the group in charge of Hudson River Park has filed a new application to build out the pier and has appealed a recent court decision that effectively stopped construction on planned a concert venue and park over the Hudson River.

In March, Judge Lorna G. Schofield of United States District Court sounded an apparent death knell on the project with a decision that said the Hudson River Park Trust and the Army Corps of Engineers had failed to adequately assess how the pier’s construction would impact the river’s estuarine sanctuary.

Yesterday the Hudson River Park Trust and the Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees construction on the river, filed an appeal of the judge’s decision. The Trust also filed a modified permit application in late April that addresses some concerns raised in Judge Schofield’s decision.

The new application nixes the barge that would be stationed alongside the pier and proposes a non-concrete fill for the mushroom-cloud “pots,” the piles supporting the lawn, stage, and other planned programs on the $250 million pier. The project is designed by London’s Heatherwick Studio, the same firm behind the recently axed Garden Bridge over the Thames.

“Our new application eliminates that concern because there is no longer any fill proposed,” Trust spokesperson James Yolles told the New York Times.

A civic group, the City Club of New York, has led a public crusade against the project, filing multiple lawsuits to stop its construction. The group argues that the Trust developed and approved Pier 55 in a secretive fashion, largely outside of the public eye.

The Trust maintains that the pier, with its ample recreation opportunities and performance venue, would be an asset to the area, and a positive extension of the four-mile-long Hudson River Park it stewards.

Financier Barry Diller and his wife, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, are fronting most of the money for the ever-more-costly pier. On Monday, Diller told the Times that, though he’s still with the project, he’s “ambivalent” about it because approvals are being stymied by opponents like the City Club.

That fight is playing out in local media, including the pages of this paper. Diller has said that the City Club’s battle was financed by real estate mogul Douglas Durst—an accusation Durst himself confirmed in an interview with The Villager last week.

The City Club’s lawyer, Richard Emery, told the paper that the new application and the appeal “sound like desperation measures on the part of the trust and Mr. Diller.”

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