Last updated: May 18, 2007 07:49am
Urstadt Calls for 50-Acre Battery Park City North
By Katie Hinderer
NEW YORK CITY-Charles Urstadt, vice chairman of Battery Park City and chairman of Urstadt Biddle Properties, spoke at the Associated Builders and Owners luncheon on Thursday and called for the creation of Battery Park City North. Although he admits that there is a five-in-one chance that the project will never go forward.
As the man that oversaw the creation of Battery City Park, and is often dubbed the “father” of the project, he told attendees that the city needs another space that can be developed to handle the city’s projected expansion. The current Battery City Park is composed of 93 acres, with 9,000 residential units and six million sf of office space. But with all the sites built out or spoken for, Urstadt told attendees that the Battery Park City Authority has no future--a problem which can be remedied by expanding both south, to Battery Park, and North, to the Holland Tunnel.
He estimates it would cost $75 per sf to create the 50 acre site he is talking about by dredging the river and using dirt from several Downtown office high-rise projects. And he argued, the process would be easier this time around as the people and knowledge are already in place since the first phase has now been completed.
But creating a large northern expanse of Battery Park City would be a significant investment, and one Urstadt said the city government could not take on. Selling bonds might be able to get the project done, but it’s uncertain. His suggestion? Privatize the whole project. He estimated the whole 143-acre site could sell for $3 billion.
Opposition to a plan like this would abound, according to Urstadt, who has already taken this idea to Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Community groups that do not want to be privately owned, and environmentalists, he said would be the hardest battle to overcome. “But like a turtle, you can’t get anywhere unless you stick your neck out,” Urstadt told attendees.
The Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver would need to be convinced of the need for the project. “There needs to be a threat,” to push it forward, Urstadt said. He suggests that “threat” could be the loss of downtown’s vitality as a financial hub. Faced with the option to build more to secure Manhattan’s status in the financial industry or let it slip away, Urstadt said progress could then be made.
But he ended by saying that this would be a 10-year process once it got up and running and he wasn’t the man for the job.
Copyright © 2007 ALM Properties, Inc.