Pier 40’s impasse threatens Hudson River Park

October 2, 2008 at 5:38 pm Leave a comment

Long-sought development plan for deteriorating dock fails to pass muster.

The last ditch effort to find a developer for Pier 40 has failed, threatening the future of the crumbling structure that provides a significant portion of the Hudson River Park’s budget.

Last March, after a proposal by The Related Cos. was shelved because of differences over lease terms, the Hudson River Park Trust gave two other groups 90 days to come up with a joint proposal for the 14-acre site. Even after deadline extensions, however, the groups have failed to produce a proposal that meet all the criteria established by the Hudson River Park Trust.

The problems with the proposal weren’t clear, although in earlier interviews, trust Chairwoman Diana Taylor said she was worried that it might not be able to generate sufficient revenue to cover interest on any bonds sold to finance the project. The proposal included putting a school and a camp on the site.

Last week, the Hudson River Park Trust board met, and while it didn’t formally vote on the proposal, it became clear that the new plan lacked sufficient support. The trust has been struggling to find a developer for the pier for six years and has issued two separate requests for proposals.

In a statement, Ms. Taylor said the trust would begin discussion with its board, elected officials and community representatives to reexamine the criteria and consider its options. She declined to comment beyond the statement.

The organizations that developed the proposal are a group of concerned parents known as the Pier 40 Partnership and a joint venture between nonprofit Urban Dove and camp operator CampGroup.

“The trust didn’t have enough faith that the plan could be executed,” said Mark Benerofe, director of business development for CampGroup. “It was nothing specific. It was the overall plan.”

Mr. Benerofe said he didn’t know whether the groups might try to formulate a new proposal.

Ms. Taylor had previously said she might consider asking legislators in Albany to change the lease on the pier so it could be extended to 49 years, as Related requested. Currently, it is a 30-year lease. However, there was enormous community opposition to Related’s plan because it moved the ball fields in the structure.

A Related spokeswoman said Wednesday that the company is no longer interested in the developing the site.

Finding a developer is crucial for the pier because it is in serious disrepair, which jeopardizes the revenues it generates from the offices, sports facilities and parking garage housed there. Earlier this year, two of the nonprofit tenants which lease space there were forced to vacate parts of their offices because of the building’s structural problems. Parts of the parking garage were also closed.

Theresa Agovino
Crain’s NY

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Entry filed under: Go Coastal, Manhattan. Tags: , , , .

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