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Thread: Pier 40 - Hudson River Park

  1. #31

    Default A resident's perspective on local politics in downtown Manhattan

    SoHo Politics

    A resident's perspective on local politics in downtown Manhattan. SOHO JOURNAL

    Monday, July 24, 2006

    The Investigation
    Just when you thought that Community Board #2 couldn't get more complicated, enter the Department of Investigation. In a rare showing of equanimity, neither mentioned nor shared with the Full Board, the Chair of Community Board #2 and its Executive Committee apparently discussed a subpoena issued for all documents related to the Waterfront Committee and its deliberations during 2003 under the tutelage of Arthur Schwartz.

    While Schwartz is currently the Chair of Parks, Waterfront and Open Space -- a title that seems to convey the impression that he's calling the shots on most of the external world in CB2's territory -- he was only the Chair of Waterfront in 2003, before he was summarily removed during the "Saturday Night Massacre" by Board Chair Aubrey Lees.

    Her actions were spurred on by rumors of inside deals and financial coziness. In fact, the entire Waterfront Committee was disbanded as was the Pier 40 Working Group.

    The theory at that time speculated that there was too much "friendship" between the developer, the Chair, and members of the Waterfront Committee who were charged with making recommendations to the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) as to which selection was preferred by the community after extensive review. The Korman/Durst plan seemed to have the inside track and was ultimately selected by the community anyway but was then rejected by the Trust. Schwartz actually sued the Trust over its rejection of the Korman plan but later withdrew the lawsuit.

    What bothered some people was the fact that Korman was already the operator of the parking concession (a $5 million dollar per year operation), was friendly with Schwartz and needed support from Community Board #2 to get the nod from the Trust. Durst, the financial partner of the Pier 40 development team was a member of Friends of Hudson River Park (FOHRP), a respected watchdog group that supports the waterfront and its development and Schwartz was also a member of the FOHRP Board. For some, there just seemed to be too many interlocking interests.

    So, why is all of this being resurrected again now?

    The Korman/Durst plan was rejected by the HRPT and since that time some beautiful new ball fields have been installed at Pier 40 at a cost of $5 million dollars. This was agreed upon by the community after extensive hearings at Community Board #2, after Schwartz's ouster and prior to the election of the current Chair, Maria Derr.

    Derr and Schwartz share a law office and were mutual supporters in the Board Chair elections. And, since Schwartz is now the high mucky-muck of everything in the Board #2's external universe, including Parks, Waterfront and Open Space, he is once again poised to be in the position to make the decision regarding Pier 40.

    And, guess what was just issued?

    That's right rangers, the new RFP for Pier 40. The classy moniker for the HRPT's announcement that it is now again ready to receive proposals for the development of the pier. This is a bid request for a 14 acre property in lower Manhattan. Modest estimates would place this puppy in the $250 million dollar category with no problem. There's a lot of room for fuzzy thinking in those numbers.

    As Yogi Berra once said, "It's Deja Vue all over again."

    With the shenanigans that have lately been going on at Board #2 with the Nightlife crew who took over the Board leadership and looking to shore up its connections at the Chamber of Commerce and the Nightlife Association -- following the money is something that members of the community are a little leery about. And, with the serious effort made by the current Board leadership at character assassination -- including using the talents of PR undercover operative Allen Roskoff -- it's not surprising that the issue has once again reared its ugly head. Anonymous letters, smears against David Reck (Derr's opposition candidate in the election), and attacks heaped upon community activists - make a cogent argument for some disgruntled downtown resident to want an investigation to be initiated.

    The financial report on Treasurer Roscia Sanz and Chair Maria Derr's watch has been the subject of much consternation and has caused such a stir that records have been requested by the Borough President's office as a result of their being too little, too late provided to the Full Board. The sums in that matter were in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    The Pier 40 RFP, controlled now by the same people, involves hundreds of millions of dollars. Somebody is uncomfortable about the situation.

    Stay tuned.

  2. #32

    Default why would any developer answer this rfp?

    Volume 76, Number 19 | September 27 - October 3, 2006
    THE VILLAGER
    Lame-duck G.O.P. Trust in final push to redevelop huge Pier 40
    By Lincoln Anderson

    The Hudson River Park Trust is moving ahead with a new effort to redevelop Pier 40 at W. Houston St. The Trust on Aug. 31 issued a new request for proposals, or R.F.P., for a “master developer” for the sprawling 14-acre pier, and one can only assume that the authority is serious in its intent.

    As opposed to the drawn-out process that ended up melting down three years ago without a developer being selected, the Trust appears ready to move fast — very fast — this time. The new R.F.P. sets a deadline of Nov. 17 of this year for submission of responses, after which the Trust then intends to “select a conditionally designed developer within 90 days,” according to the R.F.P.

    However, Chris Martin, the Trust’s spokesperson, when asked if a Pier 40 master developer would indeed be picked within 90 days of Nov. 17 — in other words, by the end of this year or early next year — indicated nothing’s definite.

    “We’re not really sure of the timeframe at this point,” he said on Tuesday. “But we do have a submission date of Nov. 17.”

    Adding to the questions about the R.F.P. is the timing of its release: On Jan. 1 there will likely be a new Democratic governor, who will have the power to replace five of the Trust’s 13 board members — including its chairperson, Trip Dorkey — who were appointed by outgoing Republican Governor George Pataki.

    Three years ago, the finalists to redevelop Pier 40 included a plan for an oceanarium and mall, as well as a plan for a big-box store with rooftop gardens and art gallery spaces. Both proposals included sports fields. But the community opposed both the oceanarium and big-box store because of the auto traffic they would have attracted. And the Trust’s board of directors didn’t want a big-box store in the park.

    The new R.F.P. notes that the Trust “considers ‘big box’ retail development at Pier 40 as incompatible with park uses.” In addition, the R.F.P. says the Trust considers as “goals of paramount importance for reuse of Pier 40” the willingness to “preserve or enhance the recreational uses” at the pier and to accommodate 1,800 public parking spaces for long-term use by area residents. Yet the developers are allowed to submit plans showing alternate schemes under which the amount of parking spaces could be reduced over time; but any replacement use or uses must generate at least $5 million in annual revenue for the Trust, as does the parking current operation. (Spokesperson Martin said Pier 40 currently accounts for slightly more than 40 percent of the 5-mile-long park’s operating budget.)

    The pier currently has 2,000 parking spaces. The pier’s sports fields include the spacious 3.5-acre artificial-turf field in the pier’s courtyard, added last year. Together with a smaller rooftop sports field, the field space meets the requirement under the Hudson River Park Act of 1998 that 50 percent of the pier’s footprint be set aside for noncommercial park space.

    Developers are required to submit at least one scheme showing retention of the existing playing fields and parking. Plans may also include roofing over the pier’s courtyard and putting the fields on top. The Trust would continue to operate the ball fields.

    The chosen developer would also be responsible for any expenses associated with the upkeep and maintenance of the pier, which has not been renovated in the 45 years since its construction.

    The master lease is being offered for a term of not more than 30 years, with the option, however, that it could also possibly be for up to 49 years.

    A pre-bid meeting and tour for interested developers was held at the pier earlier this month on Sept. 15. Citing the process’s confidentiality agreement, Martin said he couldn’t divulge who may have attended.

    Arthur Schwartz, chairperson of the Community Board 2 Parks and Waterfront Committee, expressed concern that scant opportunity for public comment and input seems to be included in this latest R.F.P. process. Three years ago, there were a series of Board 2-sponsored public hearings attended by hundreds about the proposals then on the table.

    “I’m upset about how little room they left for public input on the R.F.P.,” Schwartz said, “because they only released the draft R.F.P. on Aug. 1.” Schwartz said he was able to show the draft to the Hudson River Park Advisory Council, but really wanted to present it to C.B. 2 to get more input.

    “I asked Connie Fishman if we could have a public meeting on it, and she said, ‘No, I want to get it [the R.F.P.] out,’ ” Schwartz said, referring to the Trust’s president. “I hope the process of choosing a developer involves a lot more community input than there’s been,” he said. “And if it takes more than 90 days, so be it.”

    According to Schwartz, Fishman is pushing the R.F.P. because the pier, which is built on steel and concrete pilings — needs $30 million in repairs. However, Schwartz feels this money should come from government sources.

    “To give Pier 40 away to a developer because you need to make $30 million in repairs in a $400 million park is ludicrous,” said Schwartz. “We’d be much better off funding the park through some capital budget allocation, like they do with the rest of the park, and let H.R.P.T. keep running the parking and the fields.

    “I think Connie has a commitment to public input, but I’m not so sure all the board members do,” Schwartz said with concern.

    As for the Trust’s willingness to allow the parking to be replaced with another equally lucrative use, Schwartz warned, “They would have riots if they got rid of the parking.”

    Schwartz said a Pier 40 Working Group will be set up, as was done three years ago, drawing its members from the Advisory Council.

    But Martin said the Trust is making an effort to include the community’s input.

    “Public input is always a component, and we’re interested in what the public has to say,” he said. “That’s indicated in the preclusion of big-box stores on Pier 40, because the public has indicated that they do not want big-box stores on the pier.
    The fields are obviously important and we’re specifically requesting that at least one option [submitted by each developer] keep the fields.”
    Martin said the main reason for issuing the R.F.P. is that the pier’s infrastructure needs significant investment. He didn’t confirm that $30 million worth of repairs is what is needed, but he also noted that he couldn’t say that that figure hasn’t been cited either.
    “I don’t know the exact amount,” he said, “but it definitely needs investment in the infrastructure, for sure, to keep the pier up and running. And whatever comes in response from the R.F.P., that’s definitely part of it.”
    Martin noted, for example, that within the last year the Trust spent $1 million to replace part of the pier’s roof because it was leaking. He said the Trust wants to focus on building the park, programming activities and “mowing lawns” — not maintaining infrastructure.

  3. #33

    Default

    Cirque tries to swing Pier 40 deal

    By Lincoln Anderson

    Not too long ago, when people spoke about swingers on the Lower West Side waterfront, they were probably referring to the gay cruising scene on the crumbling former shipping piers. But a new proposal to redevelop Pier 40 at Houston St., if successful, would bring a new kind of swinger to the waterfront — namely tights-clad trapeze artists with Cirque du Soleil, speaking a strange gibberish called Cirquish, no less.

    Or, if another proposal is picked, the swingers might be basketball players — hanging from basketball hoops after throwing down rim-rattling dunks.

    The deadline for the Hudson River Park Trust’s request for proposals for developers for Pier 40 recently passed, and a handful of proposals were submitted.

    “We are currently in receipt of four responses to the Pier 40 R.F.P., and the Trust has just begun its initial review of them,” Christopher Martin, the Trust’s spokesperson, said on Tuesday. “We are committed to working closely with the Advisory Council’s [Pier 40] Working Group throughout the review process and expect our first meeting with the Working Group to take place soon.... We have also committed to posting brief summaries of the proposals on our Web site, and these will be posted shortly.”

    Martin would not provide specifics on the proposals or who submitted them. However, Arthur Schwartz and Tobi Bergman, two local Hudson River Park activists, said they had heard there were four responses and that one was by Cirque du Soleil, partnering with The Related Companies, and the other by a sports group seeking to enhance the pier’s current sports uses.

    Under the Hudson River Park Act of 1998, 50 percent of the sprawling 14-acre pier’s footprint must be devoted to public park use. The rest of the pier is permitted to be developed commercially to provide revenue for the 5-mile-long park, which is intended to be self-supporting. The long-term car parking on the pier currently generates about $5 million annually for the park.

    Bergman, president of the Pier Park and Playground Association, or P3, and a member of Community Board 2, said he’d heard that the Cirque du Soleil/Related Companies plan would entail completely taking down the pier’s existing two-story “doughnut” shed structure in order to construct a new permanent theater. Under this plan, the pier’s existing, heavily used youth sports fields — currently located in the pier’s ground-level courtyard — presumably would be relocated to the structure’s rooftop.

    Bergman said P3 supports the sports-centric plan, which he said he has been told would add eight high school-regulation-size basketball courts, three swimming pools (including one outdoor pool) and summer camp uses. The basketball courts would operate similarly to Basketball City, but not be run by Basketball City, he said. Due to the R.F.P. process’s proprietary nature, Bergman said he was not comfortable divulging the name of this development team — but he said P3 was not involved in the proposal.

    “We like it because it would bring more of the uses that we like now,” Bergman explained.

    Bergman further said he feels the construction of a new Cirque du Soleil theater from the ground — or, rather, pier — up, would negatively impact the pier’s current youth sports and parking uses because the whole pier would have to be cleared for possibly up to a few years. The parkers certainly would not be pleased, he was sure. On the other hand, he said, the sports proposal would have “incremental development,” allowing existing uses to keep functioning at spots on the pier.

    Also, the P3 president said, Cirque du Soleil would undoubtedly be a traffic nightmare, since the nearest subway station is four blocks away at W. Houston and Varick Sts. The car traffic flowing to Pier 40 each evening for the Cirque show would just exacerbate the current rush-hour and evening traffic bottlenecks, he predicted.

    “I think it’s a couple of thousand seats, and it’s year-round,” he said of the proposed theater. “Look at West and Canal Sts. now — it’s a complete mess.”

    Also, Bergman was against removing the pier’s shed because, he said, it provides some shade for the sports fields as well as blocking the wind from off the Hudson. Contrarily, rooftop sports fields would be boiling hot in summer, while in cooler weather in the fall, baseball players would have a hard time trying to catch fly balls caught up in the wind currents.

    Pier 40 currently has a small field on the southeast section of its roof.

    Bergman said he’d also heard the Whitney Museum had been interested in Pier 40, but that now appears to be moot, since the Whitney now has a tentative deal with the city to build a new museum on the High Line at Gansevoort St.

    Schwartz, chairperson of the Hudson River Park Trust Advisory Council, said he was told that the Trust wants to spend four months looking over the R.F.P. submissions.

    A Pier 40 Cirque du Soleil theater would not be Related Companies’ first waterfront project. One of the city’s most active developers, Related recently got its feet wet in Hudson River Park by partnering with the Witkoff Organization to redevelop Pier 57 at W. 15th St. into a banquet hall after Cipriani dropped out of the partnership. Jeff Blau, Related’s president, did not return a call by press time regarding the Pier 40 proposal.

    On Tuesday, Julie Nadel, a member of the Trust’s board of directors, said she had not heard about the four R.F.P. proposals.

    “Board members have not been briefed on the proposals,” she said. “I think they’re sitting on it at the staff level.”

    The Trust’s 13-member board is appointed by the governor, mayor and borough president — the governor and mayor have five appointments each, the B.P., three. The board hires the Trust’s staff, but the board ultimately would make the decision on which Pier 40 proposal to pick, if any.

    An incentive for the Trust’s picking a developer for a 30-year or possibly even 49-year long-term lease is that Pier 40 needs repairs. Under the R.F.P.’s conditions, any developer chosen would have to pay for the pier’s repairs and ongoing maintenance.

    Cirque du Soleil (Circus of the Sun), based in Montreal, Quebec, was founded in 1984 by two former street performers. It used to perform in Battery Park City for its New York visits when more of the neighborhood was undeveloped.

    It has touring and resident troupes, with its main resident troupe currently based in Las Vegas. Performances combine acrobtics, circus, opera and ballet, and feature contortionists, jugglers, clowns, trapeze artists and rock music. No animals are used. All music is live. In many performances, spoken parts are done in Cirquish, an imaginary gibberish.


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  4. #34

    Default

    Yay, Cirque! Shuttle bus to subway?

  5. #35

    Default so what are the other two proposals for pier 40?

    Will it be Related vs. Vornado? The sports proposal and maybe the Therapeutic Riding Center as the fourth and least likely?

    Does anyone know what Vornado is proposing?

    I don't think that Related has formally joined the Witkoff team at Pier 57 (isn't it time for the Trust to take back the conditional designation...or are they waiting for the new Governor to step in?) They certainly haven't been approved by the Board of Directors of HRPT in any public meeting.

    Extending the staff consideration by four months clearly puts the decision in the hands of the new administration, and seems like a last-ditch effort for current staffers to keep their jobs.

  6. #36
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    As much as I'd like to see the Cirque gang establish a permanent performance space in Manhattan it seems that the more-likely-than-not bad traffic situation at Pier 40 will be very problematic ...

    Related should go back to the drawing board for their building at 42nd / 10th Avenue and figure out a way to make that one work so that it includes the previously discussed Cirque theater (sans the non-allowable zoning bonus that Related was seeking for that site).

  7. #37
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    What’s up on the waterfront?

    Cirque, youth group float Pier 40 plans

    The Related Companies plan for Pier 40 includes a
    Performing Arts Center for Cirque du Soleil.

    downtownexpress.com
    By Lincoln Anderson
    Volume 19 Issue 33
    Dec. 29, 2006 - Jan. 4, 2007

    A glitzy “Downtown Lincoln Center” on the Hudson — with stilt-walking Cirque du Soleil performers clomping over soccer fields adding festive atmosphere to the Tribeca Film Festival’s new maritime home — or a teeming sports, day-camp and academic complex devoted to building healthy young bodies and minds, are the two competing redevelopment proposals for Pier 40.


    The Pier 40 Working Group got its first look at the proposals for the 14-acre W. Houston St. site last week. It turns out that what were believed to have been four legitimate submissions are in fact only two, with the other two being “not serious,” according to Arthur Schwartz, the working group’s chairperson.

    A rendering of Pier 40 – The People’s Pier, a proposal featuring
    sports and educational uses and a summer day camp.

    The pair of competing proposals couldn’t be more different. One — a joint venture of The Related Companies, Cirque du Soleil and the Tribeca Film Festival — calls for turning Pier 40 into the Pier 40 Performing Arts Center, or Pier 40 PAC. Drawing a projected 2.7 million visitors a year, it would have a high impact on the Hudson River Park and surrounding neighborhood.

    Dubbed Pier 40 – The People’s Pier, the other proposal — by Urban Dove and CampGroup — would augment the pier’s already substantial sports facilities, while adding space for high school and college academic programs. As opposed to the PAC, it would presumably draw fewer people to the area and park.

    In September, the Hudson River Park Trust issued a request for proposals from developers for the pier, with a Nov. 17 deadline. A similar R.F.P. process for the pier two years ago was a failure, ending without any developer being chosen. But the Trust, the state-city authority that operates and is building the 5-mile-long waterfront park, is giving it another try because it wants the pier to generate more revenue for the park, which is intended to be self-sustaining. (The parking operation on the pier currently generates $5 million annually for the Trust.) Also, the 44-year-old pier needs a renovation, which the Pier 40 master-lease holder would have to finance, as well as funding the pier’s upkeep over the term of the lease, which would be from 30 to 49 years.

    Two years ago, some of the R.F.P. submissions included big-box stores, which sparked massive opposition among neighboring residents. In response, the Trust’s latest R.F.P. specifically stated that big-box stores would not be permitted, which might explain why there were fewer proposals this time.

    Arts, fields and ice rink

    Pier 40 PAC is the more ambitious proposal in terms of the sheer amount of construction involved and its price tag — $626 million — which is more than the estimated cost of the entire park itself.

    According to the submission by The Related Companies, Pier 40 PAC “will become the premier destination spot for evening activity in Downtown Manhattan, delivering an exciting combination of entertainment activities, bustling with activity…. Practically, 600,000 square feet of continuous development site is near impossible to assemble in New York City. The opportunity here is powerful,” the proposal states.

    The PAC plan includes an 84,000-square-foot Cirque du Soleil theater — home to 75 acrobats and dancers — as well as a winter ice rink of unknown size, a 10,000-square-foot Cirque du Soleil restaurant, 30,000-square-foot Cirque nightclub, a V.I.P. lounge and 9,000-square-foot Cirque CD’s shop.

    Also part of the complex would be a 60,000-square-foot multiplex movie theater programmed by the Tribeca Film Festival, which would be a screening venue for the festival, while showing art films and independent films the rest of the year. Additionally, the Cirque theaters would be used for four weeks each year as a screening venue for the film festival.

    During the film festival, the actual Cirque shows in the theater would go on hiatus, but the Cirque performers would still be busy; the buskers, acrobats and dancers would “spill out onto the environment,” enlivening the pier, the proposal notes.

    A 45,000-square-foot music hall for live performances is another component of the PAC proposal.

    And a 40,000-square-foot grand ballroom/event space would be suitable, the proposal notes, for “after-parties for the Grammy Awards, the MTV Music Awards and the VH1 Diva Awards” or even spillover for events from the Auto Show at the Javits Center.

    Plans also call for a 15,000-square-foot space called the “Beach Club,” but there is no description of what exactly it would be.

    There would also be 37,000 square feet of small-scale “destination” and “specialty” retail, 58,000 square feet of restaurant space and a 50-slip marina.

    The PAC plan calls for demolishing the southern half of the pier’s two-story “doughnut”-shaped pier shed structure. This southern side of the pier would feature a plaza, bordered by four restaurants. In the summer the plaza would be used by a farmers’ market, and in winter would be converted to an ice-skating rink to attract visitors to the pier during the cold weather.

    The northern side of the pier shed would be left standing, and the Cirque du Soleil theater would be built on top of it at the pier’s northwest corner. Meanwhile, the pier’s western edge would see a new, glass-enclosed Winter Garden with public restrooms.

    In Pier 40 PAC, the pier’s central, 8-acre courtyard would be filled in with new construction for the complex, and the heavily used artificial-turf sports fields currently located there would be rebuilt on 227,000 square feet of space on the roof on the pier’s northern edge — with, the proposal notes, a “softer substructure” for the fields, making them safer and better.

    As for preserving other existing uses on the pier, there is provision for about 1,850 parking spaces in the proposal ( a small drop in the current number), as well as space for the Trust’s administrative offices. The Performing Arts Center project would take three years to complete, and Related feels that by installing ramps into the courtyard, about 800 parking spaces could still function during the renovation. But the sports fields would apparently be out of commission.

    Accommodation would also be made on the pier for the park’s Trapeze School, currently located in Tribeca.

    A rendering of how Pier 40’s south side would be transformed in the
    Pier 40 Performing Arts Center plan; four restaurants, at right,
    would border a plaza sporting a farmers’ market, at left,
    in warm weather and an ice-skating rink in winter.

    Schools, more fields, more parking

    On the other hand, the Pier 40 – The People’s Park plan is less an overhaul of the pier than a preservation of the existing structure.

    The proposal’s main development partners are CampGroup — owned by Benerofe Properties — and Urban Dove, a local nonprofit group helping students through athletics and other programs. The People’s Pier plan is geared more toward the surrounding community, rather than transforming the pier into a major destination.

    “The People’s Pier is not just a name,” Mark Benerofe of Benerofe Properties wrote in his cover letter on their Pier 40 R.F.P. submission. “It symbolizes a belief that this extraordinary property belongs to the residents of the city that surrounds it.”

    The emphasis in this proposal is athletics and education, as well as maintaining the community’s long-term pier parking. The pier’s existing sports fields would be kept where they are now in the central courtyard, where they would continue to be better sheltered from the elements than were they moved to the rooftop, the proposal states.

    In total, the plan would create 33 percent more open space than required under the Hudson River Park Act, which mandates that the equivalent of 50 percent of the pier’s footprint be set aside for public open space, while the rest of the pier is allowed to be developed commercially.

    With so much open space, the submission notes, “The People’s Pier will be able to host major national and regional sporting events that will showcase the city and its waterfront.” The Special Olympics New York wrote a letter of interest in the plan, noting the pier “could be a centerpiece facility” for their national or international games.

    Rendering of the PAC proposal.

    The pier’s 300,000 square feet of existing recreation space would be preserved under the Benerofe/Urban Dove plan, while 85,000 square feet of new artificial-turf fields would be added on the pier shed’s southern rooftop.

    In addition, there would be eight new indoor multi-use courts, locker rooms and related offices created in 75,000 square feet of space under a new rooftop structure to be built atop Pier 40’s northern edge; this facility would be the new home to Urban Dove’s Net Gain program, under which Urban Dove provides basketball court time for students from schools that lack courts. Urban Dove had been providing this service at Basketball City at Pier 63 for 450 students from 18 public high schools. However, in September, the Trust forced Basketball City to vacate the W. 23rd St. pier to allow construction of a park there.

    Sizeable swimming pools — 4½ feet deep, two indoor, totaling 23,000 square feet, and one 24,000-square-foot outdoor pool — would be built under the People’s plan.

    CampGroup would build an additional 100,000 square feet of facilities, and run a “high-quality day camp” from mid-June to mid-August each year.

    The plan calls for increasing the amount of car parking spaces by about 500 to 2,584. Both plans include parking stackers to use space more efficiently.

    The People’s Pier proposal also calls for a 75,000-square-foot New York City public school and an 80,000-square-foot university or college complex, both to be located — like the new basketball courts — within the new rooftop shed on the pier’s north side. Letters of interest have been sent to the project team from several schools.

    Nate Dudley, principal of New York Harbor School — which focuses on marine science and marine technology — wrote that Pier 40 would be a good spot for a middle school to feed the Harbor School high school planned for Governors Island.

    “Pier 40 is an ideal location for our first feeder middle school, and is a place that our current students already use for their maritime activities,” Dudley noted.

    Akiva Kobre, Touro College senior vice president, wrote that the school has undergraduate and graduate programs focusing on health and obesity that would benefit from being located at Pier 40.

    “We believe the location, the amount of space available and the synergies that exist with your other tenants makes Pier 40 an ideal location for use and our students,” Kobre wrote.

    Eduardo N. del Valle, City University of New York interim vice chancellor, wrote that Pier 40 “is a unique and exciting piece of property with great potential for the type of development you [The People’s Pier] are proposing.”

    Additionally, under the People’s plan, the pier’s southern promenade would be widened 10 feet, by cutting back the pier shed, and would have some commercial amenities, including a cafe on the finger pier.

    Offices for the Trust, a facility for the Trapeze School and a marina would also be included.

    As part of CampGroup’s proposal, a pedestrian bridge spanning the West Side Highway and connecting to Pier 40 would be requested from the state Department of Transportation.

    The plan is supported by The Pier Park & Playground Association, a nonprofit group based at Pier 40 that advocates for increased youth athletic opportunities on the Lower West Side. In a phone interview, Tobi Bergman, P3’s president, said the increase in existing athletic uses and the plan’s low impact are attractive. On the other hand, the Pier 40 PAC could lead to a radical transformation of the area, he contended.

    “It would turn the Village into Times Square and Broadway,” Bergman said of the arts center plan. “This represents the same kind of threat to the neighborhood that the Trump condo-hotel tower [under construction at Spring and Varick Sts.] represents — to really transform the Village in a way it’s never been transformed before. It’s not just a park issue. People will start seeing what kind of other entertainment uses can come in. I want to know how they’re going to get 2.7 million people there” and not have a negative effect on the neighborhood, he said.

    Schwartz of the Pier 40 Working Group said most of the group’s 18 members withheld comment on the proposals at their meeting last week, wanting to read the voluminous plans.

    Noting that the Hudson River Park Act restricts the types of uses on Pier 40, Schwartz noted that the two latest proposals represent “two extremes.”

    “It’s a tough project,” he said, “because you can’t have big-box retail, you can’t have commercial offices, you can’t have residential, you can’t have hotels — and where are developers putting their money these days?”

    Schwartz predicted there will be “a lot of opposition” to the arts center. And he acknowledged the importance of sports to the park.

    “The reason the Hudson River Park got built is because the Downtown youth sports leagues got mobilized” to push for the passage of the Hudson River Park Act in 1998, he said.

    Yet, Schwartz said the working group is also reserving the right not to endorse either plan.

    “For me, leaving it alone remains a distinct possibility,” he said.

    By contrast, Bergman said P3 strongly hopes the Trust does decide to pick the CampGroup plan, since the pier needs the renovation.

    “The pier is too valuable” not to renovate it, Bergman said. “I would like to see the pier and the existing structure improved. The facility’s functioning very well now, but it needs an upgrade.” Bergman contended the Trust would be “embarrassed” if this second Pier 40 R.F.P. process also fails, and that the Trust doesn’t want that to happen.

    The Trust set a 90-day timeline for picking a developer following the Nov. 17 R.F.P. submission deadline. But it seems unlikely that schedule will be met, since the administration change in Albany, with Democrat Eliot Spitzer taking over as governor from Republican George Pataki on Jan. 1, will complicate the process. The Trust’s board of directors — on which Spitzer has five appointees, including the chairperson — is likely to be be shaken up. Carol Ash, Spitzer’s new State Parks Department commissioner, has already replaced her predecessor, Bernadette Castro, on the Trust board.

    “It’ll affect it a lot,” Schwartz said of the administration change. “I expect there will be five new trustees and a new chairperson. I would think it would slow it down. Spitzer has hundreds of agency positions to fill,” he said, noting the Trust’s board is probably not the new governor’s top priority.

    Asked about the R.F.P. process and where it stands, Chris Martin, the Trust’s spokesperson, said, “Pier 40’s redevelopment is important, as its infrastructure is in need of repair and would require a substantial capital investment by the Trust to execute.” He didn’t comment on when a decision might be made.

    © 2006 Community Media, LLC



  8. #38
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    The Related / Cirque de Soleil Plan seems not to adequately address the parking & transportation issues that such a huge project would create. There is hardly any good public transporation access to this site.

    Clearly the Related / Cirque proposal would generate far more money than the UrbanDove proposal (which might give it an edge in the eyes of some) -- but the "People's Park" idea seems more in line with what is needed for & desired by the community.

    The Related / Cirque proposal would be more appropriate for the auto impound pier opposite the Javits Convention Center. With the construction of the 7 Subway extension in that area there would be access to the very high volume uses outlined in this plan via public transportation.

  9. #39
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
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    I disagree.

    The traffic claim is always overblown.

    Whenever I drive on West St. outside of rush hour, it is never that clogged.

    I'm always surprised actually of how free flowing the traffic is even in the middle of the day during the work week.

    After nightfall, it is almost empty.

    Nevertheless, the Related Cirque Soleil proposal has a snowball's chance in hell of getting approved in that area but I would still to like to see it than the People Park proposal.

    I think it is more interesting.

  10. #40

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    Of course the less ambitious, self-serving plan will be chosen. After hearing these same transportation arguments ad nauseam, I wonder, when will these residents push for light-rail along West Street? Never. They're selfish and simply don't want an influx of visitors, new residents, or construction near their homes. If a rail link were proposed along with Related's proposal surely we'd hear complain about construction, noise, and bass habitat destruction.

    Instead we have to settle for this oversized floating daycare center.

  11. #41
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    You're both being pretty snide in your responses ...

    The Related / Cirque plan offers less parking than the UrbanDove plan, yet calls for uses that clearly would bring in more people at concentrated times.

    Light Rail along the west side (or encircling Manhattan as I've often discussed) would be a brilliant addition, but that was never on the table for the community to dis-approve -- DOT wanted a Hiway and that is what we got.

    The Related / Cirque Plan also removes existing uses for an extended period of time -- something that the UrbanDove plan minimizes.

    If anyone thinks that needed athletic facilities available to the community equate to "day care" then I don't even know where to begin a discussion.

  12. #42
    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
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    The community, the community. Oh boy.
    Pier 40 is a huge opportunity to do something special, to realize a grand vision. I think it's a big mistake to take a development opportunity this unique, and turn it into a neighborhood amenity that will be useless to most New Yorkers. Hudson River Park is linear, and that means that New Yorkers using it tend to enjoy it in a linear fashion, in other words I think of it not as a sequence of parks catering to the closest adjacent neighborhood across the highway, but rather as a park where it's length is explored, either on blades, bike, or feet, stopping to spend time wherever points of interest inspire lingering. Pier 40 should invite use by all of us, not just the wealthy residents across the street. And being the largest pier it should be a sort of anchor. A farmer's market, opportunities for a restaurant meal on the water, a plaza to stroll, Cirque, these are INTERESTING to me.

    So, we're not going to allow a grand vision that adds a major point of interest to downtown because of traffic concerns? And it's situated right on a multi-lane highway that isn't really crowded at night when performances would be taking place? For most uses, plenty of people would be walking there from the train anyway, just like they do now when they visit one of the other numerous attractions along the river. The renderings of the PAC plan are exciting and I already want to visit. I would bring out-of-towners there, and then we would explore some of the HRP.
    The other plan looks like some kind of scary institution, very uninviting and out of context with the aesthetic of the park.

    I pray the PAC plan wins, though anything with real gusto like this will have a hard time getting passed in 2007 NYC. NIMBY strikes again.
    I guess we're worlds apart on this one Lofter, old pal.

  13. #43
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    OK, and meanwhile what are your suggestions for the three years that the PAC will take the soccer, baseball and other existing and well used athletic fields out of play?

    And where do you come up with the idea that these facilities are used by "just the wealthy residents across the street"? I doubt the Olsen Twins play ball over there ...

  14. #44
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    btw, talking about things for "just the wealthy", tickets for Cirque de Soleil aren't so cheap. Here are individual ticket prices for "Delirium", their concert show that recently played NYC:

    LOGE (200 OR UPPER LEVEL)
    US $39.50 - US $112.50

    FLOOR SEATING/RESERVED
    US $112.50

    CLUB (100 OR LOWER LEVEL)
    US $72.00 - US $112.50

  15. #45
    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
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    We both know the children who benefit from that will be the children of well-to-do area residents. Nobody else can afford condos over there, or the expensive day care and summer camp programs that they're likely to offer. Will these programs be offered to everyone for rates affordable to someone who can't live in Soho or the West Village?? I doubt it. And I'm not saying they necessarily should be. I'm saying I want Pier 40 to be useful to everyone even if they don't have children. I'm saying that a walk through a farmer's market, occasional circus visit or time spent in that attractive plaza are likely to be much more widely enjoyed by all of us New Yorkers than an overblown community center that will mostly serve the immediate vicinity.
    The prices for Cirque are beside the point. I can afford to take someone to the circus once a year easier than I can afford daily day care or summer camp progams. The two things are apples and oranges.
    Last edited by MidtownGuy; December 29th, 2006 at 05:06 PM.

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