Posts tagged with "Pier55":

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Thomas Heatherwick’s Pier 55 is dead

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Mayor de Blasio asks Douglas Durst to stop funding lawsuits against Pier 55

Update 7/21/17: This story has been updated with additional information on the City Club's recent activity, and the Army Corps of Engineering permitting process has been clarified.

Just when waters seemed calm, a new player has waded into the public spectacle that is the fight over Pier 55. To move the pricey project forward, Mayor Bill de Blasio has asked developer Douglas Durst to stop funding lawsuits against it.

The $250 million project is spearheaded by the Hudson River Park Trust, the public benefit corporation that manages Hudson River Park. The group, backed by substantial contributions from financier Barry Diller, asked London's Thomas Heatherwick to design a whimsical public space programmed for entertainment back in 2014. But almost since its inception, Pier 55, which is sited near Manhattan's West 13th Street, has been dogged by lawsuits from the City Club of New York, a once-dead civic organization that resurfaced in 2013 to challenge initiatives like the Midtown East rezoning.

But the Mayor's call to Durst last week may be paving the way for talks between the City Club and the Trust.

Through its lawyer, the City Club said it's open to negotiation but it's not backing off the courts. “In all likelihood,” Richard D. Emery told The New York Times, “we’re going to file a new challenge and then sit down and negotiate with them.”

Emery told the Times his client won't go to the table unless the park agrees to greater transparency in the future, giving stakeholders with divergent viewpoints space to discuss projects like Pier 55. (The Trust maintains its public review process for the project was above-board.) Right now, it's not clear what a settlement would include.

Durst wasn't always a foe of the group: He served on the board of Friends of Hudson River Park, a fundraising team that supports the Trust, but quit in December 2012. This May he confirmed rumors that he has been funding the City Club's lawsuits all along.

None of those cases were successful until March of this year, when U.S. District Court Judge Lorna G. Schofield ruled that the pier would negatively impact the rivers estuarine sanctuary, and thus countered the Trust's mission protecting the Hudson. After the Trust addressed the issues Judge Schofield cited in her decision, the Army Corps of Engineers issued a new pier permit in May.

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Fight over Pier 55 continues with court appeal and new permits

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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NY court lifts injunction on Pier55, allows construction to continue

The Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court decided Monday to waive a temporary injunction against Pier55, a new 2.7-acre park along/in the Hudson River, to allow construction to continue at least until September when the full case is heard before the court. Pier55 is designed by Heatherwick Studio. Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller are major funders of the $130 million project. Construction on Pier55 began in late June. Although the project has been approved by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the local community board, the City Club of New York has sued to block the project. Workers may now continue pile-driving for the balcony that will sit over the river. A spokesperson for Pier55 today released this statement in response to the Court’s decision: “With the City Club’s latest charade behind us, we will get back to building the new public park that local residents have sought for years. Now that both state and federal courts have denied its demand for an injunction, the City Club should take this cue to finally end its absurd crusade against the wishes of the community. We remain committed to making Pier55 a reality and providing new green space for all New Yorkers to enjoy.” Both the Pier55 development team and the City Club have aired their grievances on The Architect's Newspaper's op-ed page. Read their letters here, and here.
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NY State Supreme Court green lights Lower West Side Pier55

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.