The Tamaroa at Pier 40 in May of 2000.
From Downtown Express
Park Trust releases seven plans for Pier 40
By: Lincoln Anderson July 31, 2002
Starting the public review process of proposals by developers for Pier 40, basic designs and project outlines were posted last Thursday in the pier's lobby at the end of W. Houston St. The seven proposals range from an aquarium to a sports park to a "world expo" facility.
The Hudson River Park Trust, which is building and operates the five-mile long Hudson River Park, last year sought requests for expressions of interest for developing the currently three-level, 15-acre pier.
Under the Hudson River Park Act, 50 percent of the pier's footprint, or about seven and a half acres, must be devoted to park and open space. The pier is one of the Hudson River Park's so-called commercial nodes, from which it is intended that revenue will be raised to fund the park.
A total of seven proposals were submitted, five proposals for the whole pier and three for part of the pier.
The design boards posted in the Pier 40 lobby provide the first look at the plans' visuals. Alex Dudley, Trust spokesperson, said the designs will also be posted on the Trust's Web site, www.hudsonriverpark.org, later this week. There will be ample time for public comment, Dudley said, with one or more forums to be held after the summer in September and October. Trust representatives will be on hand to explain the plans.
"We understand the community wants input and that they intend to give it," Dudley said.
A plan called "Park on the Pier," designed by architect Sebastian Knorr and backed by a developer, calls for 760,000 sq. ft. of open space and 136,000 sq. ft. of restaurant and retail space, fewer than 2,000 spaces for long-term car parking; soccer and baseball fields in the pier's courtyard and on the roof, a fitness center and track-and-field facilities, art facilities and a state-of-the-art daycare center. The design calls for the removal of the pier's walls, while leaving up the pier's structural skeleton of concrete beams. The construction cost is $92.4 million.
"The New Pier 40," submitted by Forest City Ratner, a prominent developer, includes 664,000 sq. ft. of park and open space and 450,000 sq. ft. of restaurant and retail space. The plan has a park on top, including a sports field - the park's courtyard would be roofed over - on top of a level of parking and a level of retail. There would be parking for 2,000 cars. Accessing the rooftop park would be a slope up the south side of the pier from the ground level. The construction cost is $146 million.
A third plan, "River Green," was submitted by C&K, the parking company of Ben Cohen and Meir Korman, who currently hold the operating lease for the pier. The C&K plan would keep the existing FedEx terminal on the pier by converting it to a water-delivery freight forwarding system: The freight would be delivered to the pier from Kennedy or LaGuardia airports by boat, thus making it legal under the Hudson River Park Act's requirement that commercial uses in the park be "water-dependent." Long-term parking would be retained and there would be retail space. The courtyard would be covered to create a rooftop park. The plan's cost is $118.6 million.
A fourth plan, "Oceanarium," features a 200,000 sq. ft. aquarium on the pier's west edge, topped by white sail-like canvas, looking like a galleon. This plan calls for 241,000 sq. ft. of retail space and 594,300 sq. ft. of "park landscape," in the form of apparently passive park areas, including paths and small pools. The pier's interior courtyard would be roofed over to create a rooftop park. The developers of this plan estimate the pier's annual visitorship at 2.4 million people. There would be parking for 1,720 cars. The plan includes a 95,000-sq.-ft. indoor "soccer pavilion," and an 88,000 sq. ft. movie theater. The construction cost is $265,855,000.
"World Expo 2005/Hudson Pier," another proposal, would last only three years. It would include a film center with two studios - "Houston St. Film Center" and a "Canal St. Film Center" - and three large 30,000 sq. ft. restaurant/retail spaces on the pier's south side. The plan labels the pier's central courtyard the "Great Court," the inside of which is identified as "Temporary Market Location (Union Sq.)," apparently a Greenmarket.
The "Expo" plan includes 131,000 sq. ft. of open space, less than half the seven and a half acres of open space required under the park law. Annual visitorship is predicted at 15 million. The construction budget is $186.4 million.
A partial plan is for an "Animal Shelter and Recreation Center." The 59,500-sq.-ft. facility would occupy two floors and the roof on a corner of the pier. It would include a rubble pile to train search-and-rescue dogs, explosives training area, classrooms for therapy-dog training, a canine workout area and dog and cat adoption facilities. The cost is $15 million. Last September, the pier was used to retrieve and care for pets trapped in apartments closer to ground zero.
New York University submitted a proposal for a portion of the pier, for 85,000 to 105,000 sq. ft. for continuing education programs, professional studies, libraries, its Tisch arts school and film studies. (Currently, Pier 40 has about 600,000 sq. ft. of indoor space.)
A plan just for the roof, "Sports Park at Pier 40," submitted by Pier, Park & Playground Association (P3), calls for covering the pier's courtyard with a roof on top of which there would be 58,000 sq. ft. of sports fields and picnic areas. The sports facilities would be run be a non-profit group, possibly P3, said Tobi Bergman, P3's president. At night, the fields would be rented to adult leagues to support the sports facility's operation.
A few years ago, P3 led a community planning process for the pier that resulted in a plan that included a sports complex and parking. Architect Sebastian Knorr subsequently designed a plan along the lines of this P3 design that included an automated "stacker" parking facility to consolidate the pier's long-term car parking in a smaller area. P3 also did an economic feasibility study for this plan.
Bergman said the parking stacker plan was to show what was feasible at the pier. He said P3 would be willing to work with any of three of the current plans for the full pier, those by the Knorr group, C&K or Forest City Ratner.
"A developer could do whatever they want with the downstairs area," Bergman said. "We would put this [sports complex] on the upstairs area."
Knorr's previous Pier 40 plan was approved by Community Boards 1 and 2. Knorr's latest plan is similar to that one, but P3 is not part of the development team and is not supporting Knorr's proposal over any of the others, said Bergman.
Bergman, a former Greenwich Village Little League president, said P3 favors high school-size athletic fields, which the area lacks. When Little League players reach age 12, they play their games in Central Park or elsewhere.
Bergman said, "Maybe two parents will go up and watch in Central Park. It's not the same kind of community activity and community unification as when you have your own field."
Bergman said his group favors artificial grass so the fields could be used even in rain. In general, the weight of natural grass might rule it out as an option for a rooftop field, he said.
In terms of the design process moving forward, Dudley said the Trust has "milestones we have to keep in order to keep the Pier 40 lease active and we intend to meet that." The community and the Trust recently reached an agreement on extending commercial uses on Pier 40 on condition developing a park on the pier sticks to a timetable.
Dudley said while the formal public comment period hasn't begun, people are welcome to send letters or e-mails to the Trust. For now, he said, "People should look at the plans and think about them."
Dudley said all the information about the proposals will be made public; probably people will have to come into the Trust's office to see them because it would be difficult to copy all the materials, Dudley said. Everything except proprietary information about the developments will be made public, he said.
Dudley said the reason there weren't more proposals is because the potential for development is limited, since the park doesn't allow office or residential space or hotels.
©Downtown Express 2002 *
The Tamaroa at Pier 40 in May of 2000.
Looking forward to whatever goes here, that Hudson River Park keeps getting better and better. I would prefer any of those recreational uses for the pier over NYU's proposal for continuing education programs, professional studies, libraries, its Tisch arts school and film studies. Big Yawn.
Did I miss it, or is there a way to get a look at these plans? It says you may have to go into the Trust's office to see them - I wonder where that is.
Wow! *They have plans for all this? *Amazing! *Has my vote!"The New Pier 40," submitted by Forest City Ratner, a prominent developer, includes 664,000 sq. ft. of park and open space and 450,000 sq. ft. of restaurant and retail space. The plan has a park on top, including a sports field - the park's courtyard would be roofed over - on top of a level of parking and a level of retail. There would be parking for 2,000 cars. Accessing the rooftop park would be a slope up the south side of the pier from the ground level.
Anything more recent on this since July?
Maximize recreation on Pier 40, advocates say
By: Albert Amateau October 01, 2002
Soccer and Little League moms and dads joined Downtown waterfront advocates last week at a Pier 40 forum to urge the Hudson River Park Trust to favor proposals for the pier that include the maximum amount of large playing fields and indoor recreation space for youngsters and adults.
Over 50 people turned out for the meeting. There was support also for Floating the Apple, the community-based rowing and boat-building organization that currently occupies space on the 15-acre pier at the west end of Houston St. And a voice was raised in favor of a proposal to use part of the pier for an animal shelter and recreation center.
The Trust, the city-state agency building and operating the five-mile-long river front park between Chambers and 59th Sts., hopes to choose one of several proposals submitted for the redevelopment of Pier 40 by February 2003, said Connie Fishman, the Trust's vice president.
The decision will be made by the Trust board of directors in consultation with the Pier 40 Working Group, Fishman said at the Sept. 23 meeting. The Pier 40 Working Group is composed of elected officials, directors of the Trust, members of the Hudson River Park Advisory Council, Community Board 2 and Friends of Hudson River Park, a community group.
The Trust will conduct another hearing at New York Law School, 57 Worth St., on Oct. 7 when the developers who submitted the proposals are expected to attend and respond to questions, Fishman said.
Under the Hudson River Park Act, a state law, space equivalent to 50 percent of Pier 40's footprint must be devoted to park and public recreation. Nevertheless, Pier 40 is also designated as one of the commercial nodes intended to produce revenues to help maintain the entire park. An unanswered question, posed by Assemblymember Deborah Glick, concerns how much revenue the pier is expected to produce. The answer, she said, would have a determining influence on which proposal is chosen.
* * *
"There are wonderful elements in the proposals - if one could only choose some from column A and some from column B," said Glick. "But I don't know if there is any one proposal that is right."
Judy Duffy, Assistant District Manager of Community Board 1 who attended the Sept. 23 meeting, recalled later that the Downtown board's waterfront committee went on record on Sept. 25 in favor of active recreation proposals for the pier. "It's the only pier with enough square footage for playing fields and for passive recreation space," she said.
Stuart Waldman, a Village waterfront activist, urged that the financial implications of the Pier 40 development should be open to public scrutiny, "not like Chelsea Piers." The state had granted Chelsea Piers Management, which holds the prime lease on Piers 59, 60, 61 and a temporary lease on Pier 62, a two-year rent deferment in the 1990s after the company had won the public bidding process.
Carol Feinman, a former member of Community Board 2, wanted to know if the community would have any input on the selection of a developer. Fishman replied that multi-year leases like Pier 40 are subject to public debate.
Laurie Silberfeld, general counsel for the Trust, said that under the state legislation for the park, commercial office space would not be eligible for the pier, and warehouse uses are not likely unless associated with waterborne transportation. Special parking for recreational vehicles - such as campers and trailers - would also be a questionable use, she added.
Jane Ritter, mother of a son at the Middle Lab School on W. 17th St., and another son at Stuyvesant High School, said students at those schools and at the High School for the Humanities in Chelsea all need full-size playing fields. She urged that the Sports Park at Pier 40 proposal, submitted by Pier, Park and Playground (P3), be selected. The P3 proposal calls for roofing over the pier's expansive central courtyard and building 58,000 square feet of playing fields and open space on top.
Charles Kramer said that while the proposed P3 rooftop field is fine for about nine months of the year, Pier 40 also needs a large indoor playing field. Providing temporary playing fields during the Pier 40 reconstruction also needs attention, Kramer said.
Mike Derosa, head of the Greenwich Village Little League, and Mike Mirisola, a Village native and long-time advocate for youth recreation, also called for a developer who would provide large playing fields for teens and adults. David Smith, head of the Downtown United Soccer Club and active in youth recreation since 1974, said Pier 40 needs a full-size field to allow youngsters who are now teenagers to continue playing together.
Honi Klein, a Community Board 2 member and head of the Village Alliance business improvement district on Eighth St., said she was impressed with two proposals - River Green submitted by Meier Cohen and Ben Korman, current lease-holders of Pier 40, and New Pier 40, submitted by Forest City Ratner.
River Green would convert the existing Fed Ex trucking terminal located in the pier courtyard into a waterborne freight service from Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, thus conforming to the park legislation that requires that commercial uses be "water-dependent." Cohen and Korman also propose to cover the courtyard and create a roof-top park.
Forest City Ratner's New Pier 40 would include 664,000 square feet of park and open space, 450,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space and public parking for 2,000 cars. New Pier 40 is the only proposal that would provide auto access separate from pedestrian and bicycle access, by providing a separate ramp on the pier's south side to the rooftop field for park users.
©Downtown Express 2002 *
November 24, 2002
A Plan for a Big Box in the Village, but With Icing on Top
By TERRY PRISTIN
A private developer has proposed building two or three so-called big-box stores on Pier 40 in Greenwich Village, the same neighborhood that resoundingly rejected a Costco store just two years ago.
This time, however, the superstores would be accompanied by a giant carrot for the community: a 15-acre sports park that would occupy the top level of the huge pier. The stores would take up 450,000 square feet on the lowest level, hidden from view, according to the developer, Forest City Ratner.
Forest City's plan is one of four proposals for Pier 40 that are being weighed by the Hudson River Park Trust, the public benefit corporation that is building a five-mile park. The project will stretch from Battery Park to 59th Street and will include 13 piers with public parks and a waterfront esplanade.
All of the proposals for Pier 40, at the foot of West Houston Street, were required to incorporate a park as well as commercial development. As the biggest pier in Hudson River Park, Pier 40 is expected to provide the park's largest green space as well as a significant chunk of its operating revenues. A decision is expected in February.
Sponsors of the other plans refrained from proposing large-scale commercial development. One developer, C&K Properties, the current manager of Pier 40, would create Federal Express's first maritime operation, allowing packages to be transported to Newark Liberty International Airport by water instead of 18-wheel trucks.
Another proposal, by TEC-PMC Associates, of Los Angeles, would remove the pier walls and roof, leaving a pergola-like structure with a number of smaller stores. The fourth proposal is for a large aquarium, but community leaders have opposed it on the ground that it would take business away from the Coney Island Aquarium.
Completed in 1962, Pier 40 currently houses parking for trucks, buses and about 2,000 private cars as well as a company that rents out props and an acting school for children. A soccer field is atop the structure.
Village leaders say they remain adamantly opposed to big-box development.
"I don't think anybody's in favor of having a big-box store there," said Arthur Z. Schwartz, the chairman of the waterfront committee of Community Board 2, which represents the Village. Arthur Strickler, the board's district manager, said big-box development would generate too much traffic at times when park use was at its heaviest and would put small neighborhood stores at risk. In 2000, community opposition forced Costco to abandon plans to open a store on the former site of the 14th Street Armory and to sell property it had acquired for two other stores.
Still, the Forest City proposal has not provoked the intense outcry that Costco faced — not yet, anyway. Judy Duffy, the assistant district manager of Community Board 1, which represents the neighborhood just south of Pier 40, said the tone of the discussion had changed. "It's not the Village it was six years ago," she said. "We're all asking a lot of questions."
The Hudson River Park Trust has not released any financial data from the proposals, but has told the Pier 40 Working Group, an advisory group made up of community leaders, that the Forest City Ratner plan would be the most lucrative. Ms. Duffy said that the developer's experience in building such large projects as the Metro Tech Center, an office complex in Downtown Brooklyn, also worked in its favor. "There's a certain amount of confidence that Forest City Ratner has deep pockets and can bring this baby home," she said.
The proposal by Forest City Ratner, which is the partner with The New York Times Company in the development of The Times's new headquarters, does not spell out which retailers would lease space at the pier, although Costco, Ikea and Fairway supermarkets are cited as potential tenants.
Costco and other national big-box retailers have been eager to break into Manhattan. "We are very interested in doing something there," said Jeffrey H. Brotman, the chairman of Costco, referring to Pier 40. In 1999, the City Council approved plans for a shopping center along Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive that would include a Costco and a Home Depot, but the development has been stalled because of financing and legal hurdles.
Mr. Schwartz of Board 2 said that Forest City Ratner might be able to lower its development costs and avoid having to lease space to superstores. But Michele deMilly, a spokeswoman for the developer, said the stores were needed to make the project viable. She said Forest City would go ahead with the project only if the community was behind it.
Whichever plan is adopted, one thing is certain: The 2,000 car owners who park at the pier at the exceptionally low rate of about $200 a month will continue to be accommodated. Mr. Schwartz said that 90 percent of the car owners came from the neighborhood and constituted what he described as a "powerful lobby."
C&K adds developer to Pier 40 plan; but aquarium is gaining support.
By: Lincoln Anderson January 29, 2003
After failing to land a FedEx ferry system as part of plan to redevelop Pier 40, C&K Properties announced Monday they have partnered with the Durst Organization, one of New York City's most prominent real estate owners and developers, and are hurriedly devising a new plan. *
As part of its proposal to develop Pier 40 in the Hudson River Park at Houston St., C&K Properties, owned and operated by Meir Cohen and Ben Korman, hoped to convince FedEx to build a small fleet of boats to service the pier. However, two weeks ago, FedEx announced the plan was not economically feasible.
Meanwhile, time is running out before the legally mandated Feb. 15 deadline for the Hudson River Park Trust to pick a developer for the 15-acre pier.
"We're trying to come up with a revised plan by the end of this week," Korman said. "The Durst Organization brings additional resources and a wealth of experience to our redevelopment plans for Pier 40. We believe that Douglas Durst is a 'green developer,' environmentally good."
In a joint Jan. 27 press release with C&K, Douglas Durst, co-president of the Durst Organization, said, "C&K has a great reputation for working cooperatively with the community and various government agencies on the West Side over the past decade. We look forward to helping them ensure that Pier 40 is an asset to the Hudson River Park and the adjacent neighborhoods."
Douglas Durst is active in the Hudson River Park as president of Friends of Hudson River Park, an advocacy group for the park. Korman is treasurer and a board member of Friends of Hudson River Park. Korman said he's always known Durst to be a top developer, but also got to know him through the Friends group.
The Durst Organization owns over 7.5 million sq. ft. of New York City office building space. A leader in the "green" development movement, Durst's Four Times Sq., a 1.6 million-sq.-ft. office tower built in the mid-1990s, is considered one of the world's most energy efficient office buildings.
Durst also is the financial backer of New York Water Taxi, a water taxi service launched last fall and headed by Tom Fox, former president of the Hudson River Park Conservancy, the Trust's predecessor.
Korman made a general presentation to the Pier 40 Working Group last Tuesday regarding C&K's new partnership with Durst and some of ideas they're considering for Pier 40. Korman said he didn't discuss anything definite and that nothing's being ruled in or ruled out at this point.
However, Arthur Schwartz, a member of the Pier 40 Working Group - a group of residents and waterfront and park activists reviewing the plans for Pier 40 - said it seemed Korman was implying there would be one big-box tenant, "a Home Depot-like store."
According to Schwartz, while Korman didn't mention it specifically, the plan's anchor tenant has to be Home Depot, or a similar type of competitor hardware chain because "there's nothing else" that fits what Korman described.
"He said a large store that wouldn't require any change in zoning," Schwartz said. Hardware stores are the only kind of large retail over 20,000 sq. ft. that would be allowed on the pier without rezoning. Other types of stores would be allowed without rezoning, but only if they are under 20,000 sq. ft.
But Korman said, "It could be that [Schwartz] speculated Home Depot. I did not say it. I said that it will comply with the city's waterfront zoning and the Hudson River Park Act, so that it doesn't have to go through a tiring ULURP [uniform land-use review procedure].... To be honest, I have no clue what we are going to come up with on Friday."
Korman didn't tell the Working Group that the developer they were teaming up with was Durst, but Schwartz said they knew who it had to be when Korman said it was a major developer heavily involved with Hudson River Park.
"We guessed it right away," Schwartz said.
As to why they felt they needed to bring in Durst, Korman said, "We could do it by ourselves.... [But] I think a lot of it has to deal with the magnitude of this kind of project." He cited Durst's experience in developing large projects.
Asked if there was still time for the Trust to review the new plan by C&K and Durst, Alex Dudley, the Trust's spokesperson, said, "We are still on course to meet our Feb. 15 deadline. If we have time to look at a plan from them we will. We have not seen a plan from them yet, but we've heard they have something."
Bruce Ratner, head of Forest City Ratner, another major local developer that has proposed a big-box retail plan for the pier, is head of the City Parks Foundation, so like Durst, he is also a park supporter. Ratner's plan includes three big-box stores of 150,000 sq. ft. each - IKEA, Costco and Fairway have been mentioned as possible tenants.
The Ratner plan would roof over the pier's inner courtyard to create a rooftop park with sports fields. Schwartz said that from what he picked up, C&K's latest plan would not roof over the pier's courtyard, and would use the park's courtyard for the park and any sports fields while the roof would have gardens; since not roofing over the courtyard would be cheaper to build, the C&K plan would require less retail store space to support its cost than the Ratner plan.
Under the Hudson River Park Act, space equal to 50 percent of the pier's footprint must be devoted to open park use.
There are also two other developers' plans still in the running, "Oceanarium" - a large aquarium - and a proposal by a group led by architect Sebastian Knorr that would strip off the pier's sides and include many smaller stores. Knorr is reportedly trying to increase the size of his retail component, however, to compete with Ratner.
Word is that "Oceanarium," once considered a long shot, is now very much in the running and could well end up the winner. This development seems to have resulted from Community Board 2's resolution against big-box retail stores on Pier 40, which was specifically aimed at the Forest City Ratner proposal, but which now could also apply to C&K's new plan if it indeed includes a Home Depot-like store.
When asked her thoughts on the latest news on C&K, Madelyn Wils, a member of the Pier 40 Working Group and the Trust's board of directors and chairperson of Community Board 1, sounded as if Board 2's resolution had quite an impact and would even negate C&K's rumored "modified big-box plan."
"I would assume if Community Board 2 supported a resolution against big-box stores, I assume it wasn't just against Ratner," Wils said. "I think that Community Board 2 made a very good argument for no big-box stores, particularly in the area of transportation [impact]."
Meanwhile, Schwartz said he'd heard from Wils that several board members of the Trust, including Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff and the city and state Parks commissioners, are leaning toward the aquarium as a destination-type attraction for the park. The Trust's board will make the final decision on or around Feb. 15, though the Working Group will weigh in earlier with its own opinion.
Wils said she hadn't polled enough Trust board members to know if the aquarium plan is now favored. But she said she thinks "Oceanarium" sounds like the best use for the park among the four proposals, and is consistent with the Hudson River Park Act, since it is a water-dependent use.
"I think you certainly could consider that a water use, yes," Wils said of the aquarium. "Just from a personal point of view, I like cultural uses and water uses. I like 'Oceanarium.' It relates to water - certainly more than Home Depot. [And] in Lower Manhattan, we tend to prefer cultural and recreational uses. Home Depot and IKEA don't fall under that."
But Wils added she isn't endorsing any plan: "I'm definitely not asking for anything here," she said.
Before Board 2's anti-big-box resolution, Wils had sounded somewhat interested in Ratner's big-box retail plan. But she maintains it was only Schwartz saying she was in favor of Ratner's plan.
"I said if you want a big, open park on the top, then [Ratner] had the answer," Wils clarified. "But that didn't mean I was advocating for a big-box mall. Ratner made it very clear that they are not interested in modifying their proposal."
While Ratner seems unwilling to reduce the scope of its retail, Wils said the "Oceanarium" group seems more flexible.
"I think they pretty well have shown they can accommodate what the community's interests are," she said.
However, Schwartz said if "Oceanarium" is selected, the aquarium plan's current lack of rooftop park and sports field space "would be a problem" and that "hopefully the Trust board won't do that." Schwartz said the "Oceanarium" plan originally called for an "asphalt" roof surface with "paths." He said the aquarium plan has now allocated a corner of the pier's rooftop for park space and athletic fields, but that the aquarium's layout still makes it impossible to configure good field space. If the aquarium is redesigned, there may be a way to get more outdoor park space, he said.
Hearing of Wils' qualified endorsement of the aquarium, Schwartz said, "I can tell you, 'Oceanarium' will be very unpopular in the Village - maybe not in Tribeca. Maybe they can build it on Pier 25 [in Tribeca]."
One advantage of "Oceanarium" over Ratner though is that many of the projected three million annual visitors it would attract would come by bus, Schwartz said. Ratner's big-box stores on the other hand would attract a projected 7 million annual auto trips to or from the pier, according to an estimate by Brian Ketcham, an environmental engineer specializing in big-box impact.
Dudley, the Trust's spokesperson, noted that both the aquarium and retail plans are legal under the Park Act, though the big-box retail would require rezoning. Illegal uses under the Park Act include hotels, residential housing, casinos, riverboat gambling, manufacturing, motorized aircraft facilities or incompatible municipal uses, like garbage trucks.
Dudley said he couldn't answer questions about whether the aquarium plan has become the frontrunner. Although some Working Group members are speaking openly about the process, it's supposed to be "contained," Dudley noted.
"The only decision that counts is the decision the Trust board will make on Feb. 15," Dudley said. "Everything else is at this point is speculative."
Schwartz said that the Working Group met on Monday in an informal meeting and decided that, due to concern over the aquarium gaining popularity, they will present a position paper to the Trust at the Trust's Thurs., Jan. 30, board of directors meeting. Schwartz said "everyone was very excited" about the group's making a statement. However, he said there's a "reason why" he cannot give any hints as to what the Working Group's recommendations for Pier 40 will be, but that it will all become clear by next week.
Latest on Pier 40
from Downtown Express
Village group favors big box plan for Pier 40
By: Lincoln Anderson February 12, 2003
With less than a week left before the deadline for the Hudson River Park Trust to pick a redevelopment plan for Pier 40, on Monday the Pier 40 Working Group endorsed the River Green plan by C&K Properties and the Durst Organization.A hint was seen at the Trust's Jan. 30 board of directors meeting, when Assemblymember Deborah Glick, on behalf of the Working Group, asked for an extension of the Feb. 15 deadline, saying a "community-friendly developer, like C&K," should be considered for the sprawling W. Houston St. pier. The extension request was ostensibly to give C&K some time: Two weeks before, FedEx had abandoned a waterborne delivery plan that C&K hoped would be its main commercial tenant. C&K quickly partnered with developer Douglas Durst and submitted a new plan to the Trust on Feb. 4.Alex Dudley, the Trust's spokesperson, said he didn't know if the deadline would be extended.
Ben Korman, of C&K Properties, said they sent their revised plan to the Trust, and "are waiting like everyone else." Korman said Tobi Bergman, president of Pier Park & Playground Association, a youth sports advocacy group, worked closely with their architect to devise a new plan for rooftop ballfields in the revised proposal.
"We have an understanding with P3 and together we worked on enlarging the ballfields," Korman said.
Korman said their new plan calls for a single 120,000-sq.-ft. big-box retail store. He wouldn't say what type, but that it is "as of right," not requiring any changes to the city's waterfront zoning or the pier's Hudson Sq.-area manufacturing zoning. Korman said they have a retail tenant in mind but can't announce who it is until they have a signed agreement with the tenant. The store would get a 30-year lease, the same-length lease the developer will get for the whole pier. Park watchers suspect it's a large hardware store, like a Home Depot, since that's the only type of large store that wouldn't need rezoning.
Korman said they also have back-up tenants, to avoid what happened when FedEx pulled out of the waterborne delivery system.
C&K's plan also includes 200,000 sq. ft. of TV and film production studios and a TV and film museum. In general, it resembles the previous plan except one big-box store replaces the waterborne FedEx system as the anchor commercial tenant.
Arthur Schwartz, chairperson of Community Board 2's waterfront committee, said under their revised plan, C&K will roof over half the pier's courtyard to allow for creation of full-size sports fields.
The amount of space for viewing gardens on the roof - part of C&K's original proposal - was reduced to allow for larger athletic fields.
"The gardens will be designed with consultation with the community," Korman said. The gardens will have different themes, he said, but won't be open for people to garden in.
"It's not like the East Village-type gardens," Korman noted.
Both Schwartz, a leading member of the Working Group, and Bergman, who, though not a member of the group, took on a large role in recent weeks in reshaping the ballfield component of C&K's proposal, expect the Trust will make the designation Feb. 15, and will pick C&K.
"Unless the Trust wants to go against the community, they'll pick C&K," Schwartz predicted. "It's not just C&K, it's C&K/Durst," he stressed. "I think Durst's addition made it much more plausible. With Durst, you know you're not going to run out of money and lose financial backing."
Bergman said that having one big-box store in the C&K plan is far more acceptable than three big-box stores called for in a plan by Forest City Ratner.
"If C&K is a gorilla, Ratner is a monster," Bergman said.
In its Feb. 10 statement, the Working Group gave several reasons why it endorsed the C&K plan.
The group felt C&K's plan recognizes the uniqueness of the 15-acre pier's large footprint and takes into account the community's need for athletic fields for local youth organizations. Second, the plan dedicates substantial open space to passive recreation, including the entire perimeter walkway and area with best water views. Third, the group said, C&K's plan doesn't overburden Pier 40 with commercial activity that would negatively impact the park, includes "more appropriately scaled attractions" and retains the current number of long-term parking spaces, about 2,000, allocated for community use.
Also, although it includes one large-scale retail use of 120,000 sq. ft. in its revised plan, it is less than one-third of the 450,000 sq. ft. of big-box commercial space in the Forest City Ratner plan and one-half the 286,000 sq. ft. of retail space in the Oceanarium aquarium proposal.
"The impacts of one large-scale retailer are certainly less offensive to the community than three and will not have the same crippling traffic impacts. The River Green proposal represents a fair compromise," the Working Group said.
The Working Group said C&K/Durst have "demonstrated creativity and flexibility in its proposal and responsiveness to the community's needs and concerns regarding development of the pier." As a result, the group said, "River Green is the only proposal that will be able to gain broad support."
While noting that the commercial uses in the C&K plan far exceed the guidelines in the Working Group's "Blueprint for Pier 40" position statement, the Working Group accepts them as a "compromise," though stressing that they should be no larger.
The Working Group also gave reasons for why it did not endorse the three other competing plans.
Regarding the Oceanarium project, the group said the combination of a 200,000 sq. ft. aquarium, 286,000 sq. ft. of retail space and 88,000 sq. ft. of theater space "will bring excessive traffic and congestion to the park and adjoining neighborhoods, while creating a mall-like atmosphere." The group also expressed concern about the impact of Oceanarium on the Coney Island aquarium. And they objected to the loss of 1,000 long-term parking spaces called for in the Oceanarium plan.
As for the New Pier 40 plan by Forest City Ratner, with three big-box stores, such as IKEA, Costco and Fairway, the group opposes it because it rejects such a large amount of big-box commercial retail in the park, feeling it would not be park-compatible and "would elicit direct, vehement and immediate community opposition."
Finally, the group said it opposes the Park on the Pier development, designed by architect Sebastian Knorr, because the plan is ill-defined and the developer lacks experience. "Limited concrete information was presented regarding both the design of the plan and the commercial activity being considered," the group said.
The Working Group's members include representatives of the elected officials who represent the Pier 40 site and from the Hudson River Park Trust Advisory Council, Community Board 2, Friends of Hudson River Park and The Federation to Preserve the Greenwich Village Waterfront.
Schwartz said the Working Group's position statement on Pier 40 that Glick read to the Trust's board last month was a watershed moment, possibly marking the end of conflict over the Greenwich Village waterfront, which even influenced local Democratic club politics. Different factions, like the Federation, all came together in the end.
"It represents a real change in the political wars in the community," Schwartz said. "It's also a testament to the hours and hours of meetings and discussions and e-mails by the Working Group's members. We all united to stop the big-box stuff. We all united to stop the Oceanarium - though it's not guaranteed that it's stopped."
The Working Group passed a resolution against Oceanarium on Feb. 3.
©Downtown Express 2003 *
I would like to see more of the studios, less retail, and am not sure about the museum - don't we have museums dedicated to film and tv (Museum of the Moving Image, Museum of Television and Radio, among others). *Who knows, it might be a nice museum.
It would be better the improve the CI aquarium, though. To have 2 is crazy and the aquarium should be used as a CI centerpiece.
I guess we'll see, hopefully soon.
from The Downtown Express
Two Pier 40 Developers Propose Bigger Fields
By Lincoln Anderson
One thing was abundantly clear at last Monday night’s public hearing on two development proposals for Pier 40, as clear as the black and white patches on a soccer ball or the laces on a baseball: the developers had heard the message loud and clear that youth sports leagues want large ball fields on the W. Houston St. pier. Both Park on the Pier Developers and the Chermayeff, Sollogub and Poole groups presented significantly revised plans at the meeting, co-sponsored by Community Board 2 and the Hudson River Park Trust and run by Board 2.
About 150 people turned out to hear the presentations at the Manhattan Developmental Center at 75 Morton St.
The most striking changes were that whereas in previous plans, both development groups did not fill in the pier’s central courtyard, in their new plans both cover over the courtyard on both the second and third floors, creating a park on 100 percent of the pier’s rooftop. In each plan, most of the rooftop is devoted to a complex of sports fields, which would allow teens to play regulation baseball games.
Fields, retail, parking
The first to present was Park on the Pier Developers, a group comprising three principals, Bob Fagan, Abe Lesser and Louis Stahl. The group came with a new architect, John Schimenti, who has stepped in because the group’s previous architect, Sebastian Knorr, is reportedly involved in some other big projects. Schimenti has designed many New York City movie theaters, including the Angelika on Houston St.
As Fagan described it, their plan, a $130 million project, will include on the pier’s ground level, 30,000 sq. ft. of indoor recreation space and 250,000 sq. ft. of retail space. This retail space could but doesn’t have to include a 120,000-sq.-ft. Home Depot-type store, Fagan said.
“The most reliable sources of income are going to create the most fervent opposition, because people don’t want big box,” Fagan said, though noting there was support for C&K/Durst’s plan with one big-box store in the last round of planning.
“As far as the anchor tenant, we’re looking at a Home Depot, like other people are talking about,” Fagan said. Fagan said despite the weak retail market, there has been no lack of interest in the big-box space. “We have more companies than we can accommodate interested in the site,” he said.
There would be two other retail spaces of from anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 sq. ft. to 50,000 to 60,000 sq. ft. There would also be a 46,000-sq.-ft. banquet hall within the 250,000 sq. ft. of retail space. The plan also calls for smaller attractions: sports bars, a pizzeria or a microbrewery.
Fagan said they hope to have on the first floor a 60,000-sq.-ft. greenmarket four to five days a week, which they think would become comparable to the Union Sq. Greenmarket within five years. Fagan said that on off days, the greenmarket space could be used as artists’ space. The finger pier might have a Hudson River fisheries museum.
On the second level, they would keep 1,800 spots for long-term parking, with 600 other parking spots devoted to short-term parking for the Home Depot and other retail stores.
An audience member expressed skepticism that 600 parking spots would satisfy a Home Depot. But Fagan said, “Those were the numbers they gave us.”
The roof would include a full-size soccer field, full-size baseball field and a softball field, possibly with squash or tennis courts around the perimeter. Fagan said either the Trust or a “professional operator” would operate the sports fields.
“We don’t know right now,” he said. “It’s the Trust’s call.”
Architect Schimenti said that grass would be more suitable for the passive areas, while an artificial grass surface would be better for the soccer field, for example, since grass would wear down from use.
To allow sunlight to get to lower levels, large notches would be cut in the edges of the roof and there would be a light well in the middle of the roof.
The previous plan they proposed cost less at $90 million. Fagan said the additional $40 million was because of the roofing over of the courtyard.
The group of Fagan, Lesser and Stahl own the Downtown Athletic Club and have renovated buildings for the Department of Education.
Fields, aquarium, parking
Peter Chermayeff, a principal of Chermayeff, Sollogub and Poole, the Boston-based international aquarium design firm, described his group’s revised plans with a slideshow and Power Point presentation.
“We are hearing a lot of strong opinion. You are not light in the articulation department,” Chermayeff told the crowd. “This community really needs sports facilities. We’ve heard that loud and clear.”
No longer is the project called Pier 40 Oceanarium. Now it is called Hudson Place – An Environmental and Sports Center, reflecting that it is as much sports facility as oceanarium. The construction cost remains the same: $265 million.
In the revised plan, the pier’s courtyard would be roofed over and the roof primarily devoted to sports fields. The goal of the new plan is “maximum park and recreation space,” Chermayeff said. He noted that their plan includes a baseball field with a 400-ft. fence – Major League proportions.
The artistic white “sails” that were suspended over the oceanarium in the previous design have been retained, but are now over the baseball field area. Soccer fields, located on the east side of the pier’s roof, will be covered with some sort of translucent mesh material.
At two-and-a-half acres, an 800-ft.-long strip along the western edge of the pier’s rooftop, about 14-20 percent of the roof space, will be devoted to passive recreation.
The sports fields would not be free to use but would be available at a “low cost,” he said. Under Chermayeff’s plan, Andres Gazzolo, a former semi-pro soccer player from Argentina who runs a children’s soccer program in Mansfield, Mass., would oversee the fields’ programming.
In addition to increased sports fields space, Chermayeff would join the Babe Ruth birthplace museum in Baltimore and Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in New Jersey to create small sports museum spaces at Pier 40.
But from his presentation, it was clear that the oceanarium is Chermayeff’s passion. Instead of rising up above the pier on its western edge as in the earlier design, the oceanarium is now fully under the roof of the pier, though still on the pier’s western edge.
With huge windows, the tanks would be four stories tall and wide to give the sense of looking into a vast ocean and accommodate the showpiece — a whale shark.
“There’s nothing like having a whale shark go right by you at the window,” Chermayeff noted. “So impressive, people tend to go silent….”
A Pier 40 aquarium in the Village/Hudson Sq., at 200,000 sq. ft., would be the second-largest aquarium in the world, after Osaka’s — one of six major aquariums Chermayeff’s group has built — which draws 3 million visitors a year. Chermayeff projects 2.5 million annual visitors to a Pier 40 oceanarium.
Chermayeff assured the audience that although the oceanarium will draw lots of people it is “not scary, but it is in fact an economic driver,” capable of generating well over $100 million a year for the area.
In the revised plan, Chermayeff reduced both the amount of retail and office space in their proposal by a third; the aquarium stayed the same size; long-term parking spaces increased from 1,700 to 2,800, with up to 650 spots for short-term parking for visitors to the pier. The car parking would be on the ground floor.
Rather than hurting the Coney Island aquarium as many fear, Chermayeff said the Pier 40 oceanarium could help it through cross-marketing and ticket packages. But in response to a question, he acknowledged that the Wildlife Conservation Society, which operates the New York Coney Aquarium in Coney Island, said “no thank you” to such a connection.
Buck Moorhead, from Jane St., was among several who objected to the idea of commercial ball fields. He said he’s been waiting so long for a park on Pier 40 that although he once was interested in getting active recreation space on the pier, now he’s ready for passive recreation.
“To not be able to walk out there on that huge, huge space, like Central Park would be a big loss,” Moorhead said. He also didn’t like the plan to cover the fields with sails or other materials, saying he’d like to feel rain fall just like on any other field.
Chermayeff said there would be no charge to watch people playing sports on the pier.
Stu Waldman said it’s not inconceivable the aquarium could draw 4 million visitors a year, most from the suburbs who “will be circling around the neighborhood looking for parking.”
Tobi Bergman, a leading advocate for ball fields on the roof of Pier 40, and whose group, Pier, Park and Playground Association, noted that under the Hudson River Park Act the 50 percent of the pier’s footprint that is required to be open/park space must be either free or for use with a nominal fee.
Two more plans
Ben Korman and Meier Cohen of C&K Properties were in the audience. They were scheduled present their plan for the pier May 5, along with the other remaining development group, Forest City Ratner. On May 14, the C.B. 2 committee will discuss all four plans for Pier 40 at 75 Morton St. at 6:30 p.m.
Korman, who proposed Home Depot as the anchor tenant, indicated that he has also made some changes. “I’m enjoying the process,” he said. “You’re going to be surprised next week.”
Chermayeff, Sollogub and Poole’s new Pier 40 design sports a full rooftop park with sports fields under white sails, and an aquarium underneath.
The revised plan for Pier 40 by C&K/Durst includes 100 percent coverage of the pier’s 15-acre footprint with park and open recreation space. Soccer fields would be recessed on the pier’s second floor and baseball fields would be located on the roof, which would be ringed by 15 gardens, some containing art installations. The pier’s second floor would have eight to 10 spaces for arts and cultural institutions.
The NY Aquarium at Coney Island will be out of business.
Editorial from The Villager
Only a financially realistic plan at Pier 40 can work
Monday’s presentation by C&K Properties/Durst Organization of their revised redevelopment proposal for Pier 40 concluded another round of public hearings on the competing plans for the pier.
By seemingly abandoning a proposal for a 120,000-sq.-ft., big-box Home Depot-type hardware store as the pier’s anchor commercial tenant, the developers demonstrated an effort to respond to the objections of many in the community, as well as officials at the Hudson River Park Trust, to big-box retail in the park.
In C&K/Durst’s new $115 million plan, screws and hammers have been replaced by performances, paintings and video workshops.
The pier would have the equivalent of 100 percent of its footprint covered by a public park and sports fields. But — and here’s the hitch — the developers would not pay the estimated $30 million cost of building this park and would seek outside funds.
Clearly, the developers, who originally proposed a first-of-its-kind waterborne FedEx delivery system for the pier, have again taken the minimum impact route, judging there was too much opposition to a big-box retail store in the park for any Pier 40 plan including one to work.
Yet, their new arts proposal obviously does not generate anywhere near the money of a big-box store, hence the need for outside funding.
However, in tight economic times, it’s questionable if $30 million can or will be found in any reasonable timeframe. The developers suggest the city or state governments may offer funding and that the private sector could be tapped through fundraising groups such as Friends of Hudson River Park.
There was a suggestion a conservancy be set up to fundraise for the park. But that takes time, and this is the low-density Village, not the Upper East Side and the Central Park S. area with its Fortune 500 companies that finance the Central Park Conservancy.
Meanwhile, in addition to having increased the sports field space in its latest plan, the oceanarium group now pledges that most of the baseball fields and soccer fields on the pier’s roof in their plan would be free. This is a positive move, addressing an obstacle to community support. Peter Chermayeff’s group has a proven track record of developing successful aquariums. On the other hand, C&K’s early FedEx ferries plan sunk and their new one looks financial “iffy.”
An argument against the oceanarium is the estimated 2.5 million annual visitors it would draw. A Home Depot, originally supported by Friends of Hudson River Park and the Pier 40 Working Group, would have drawn the same number of car trips (2.5 million) to or from the pier. Why is traffic O.K. heading by car (and it would almost always be by car) to a Home Depot but not by foot or subway or car to an aquarium?
Whether the oceanarium can overcome fears of its traffic impact and the opposition of the Coney Island aquarium and Brooklyn remains to be seen.
There’s still time for a compelling Pier 40 plan to emerge and gain support — but only a realistic, financially sound one can succeed.
Pier 40 is 15 acres. CB2 meeting on May 14
Why don't they make more use of the water taxis in these locations to allow an alternative to driving. Like the Jets stadium, cut way down on available parking and in time people will figure it out that this mode of transportation is the way to go.
I'd rather see just about anything other than Home Depot as the financial anchor of this great new park's showcase pier. I may have to go to this meeting......