August 19, 2009 at 4:39 pm Leave a comment

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Governor David A. Paterson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today broke ground on the $148 million first phase of the East River Waterfront Esplanade and Piers Project in Lower Manhattan. The first phase – which will create more than 400 construction-related jobs – will transform two miles of  underutilized portions of the East River waterfront stretching from the Battery Maritime Building to Pier 35 into pedestrian-friendly, publicly accessible open space. It will be completed by the end of 2011. The project is being built by New York City Economic Development Corporation and funded with $138 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and $9.7 million from Federal and New York State Transportation Funds. Revitalizing New York City’s waterfront and investing in infrastructure projects that create jobs is part of the Bloomberg Administration’s Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan to create jobs for New Yorkers today, implement a vision for long-term economic growth and build affordable, attractive neighborhoods. Mayor Bloomberg was joined at the announcement, which took place on the waterfront construction site near Wall Street, by Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, State Senator Daniel L. Squadron, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert C. Lieber, City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Economic Development Corporation Executive Vice President Madelyn Wils, Lower Manhattan Development Corporation Chair Avi Schick and Alliance for Downtown New York President Elizabeth Berger.

“Our vision for Lower Manhattan as a diverse, mixed-use neighborhood is coming to life, and opening up more of the East River waterfront to residents and visitors is the next major step in creating a more livable downtown community,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The $148 million East River Waterfront Esplanade and Piers Project will transform the waterfront into a scenic esplanade, and its construction will create 400 jobs at a time when we need them most. The project is the result of an extensive collaborative effort that included two community boards and other community groups, as well as local, state, and federal officials. I thank them all for helping us improve the quality of life for the entire Lower Manhattan community.”

“This historic project will enhance and expand the existing public esplanade and create several new amenities, including commercial, cultural and community attractions,” said Governor Paterson. “It will also greatly improve the connection between the Battery and East River Parks, two of the largest open spaces in Lower Manhattan. Today’s groundbreaking will have a significant economic impact on the region by immediately providing jobs and establishing a long-term stimulus as residents and tourists flock to the rejuvenated waterfront. I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Silver, and all of our partners in government who have helped bring this project to fruition.”

“This highly anticipated project will reconnect Lower Manhattan to the waterfront and provide residents of Chinatown and the Lower East Side with vital open space on the piers, a new esplanade and paths for biking and rollerblading,” said Speaker Silver.

“Today’s groundbreaking on the East River Waterfront Esplanade and Piers Project marks an exciting step towards increasing connectivity and recreational access in Lower Manhattan and the Lower East Side,” said State Senator Squadron. “In addition, the project shows a commitment to job creation and sustainability. Continued community input and feedback will assure that the East River Waterfront is another step toward the vision of a unified Harbor Park, a Central Park for the center of the city.”

“Today’s groundbreaking is the first step in creating accessible parkland in Manhattan’s Lower East Side waterfront, an area long underserved by appropriate park space,” said Borough President Stringer. “For years this space has been unusable for neighborhood residents who have dreamt of its potential. Now, with the addition of a Class One bike lane, new areas for cultural, recreational, community programming and other amenities, the area’s potential will finally be realized.”

“It is so important that our citizens have access to a vibrant and beautiful shoreline,” said Council Member Gerson. “I join with the entire community in celebrating this long awaited revitalization of the East River waterfront.”

The East River Waterfront Esplanade and Piers Project was conceived in 2002 as part of Mayor Bloomberg’s Vision for Lower Manhattan and incorporates the Downtown East River Waterfront Concept Plan developed by Community Board 1 and the Alliance for Downtown New York, and ideas from Community Board 3’s East River Greenway Community Design Workshop. The first phase of the project will improve the existing esplanade from the Battery Maritime Building to Pier 35 to safely accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists. It will feature new plantings, seating and lighting, a dedicated bikeway and visitor-friendly designs.

The esplanade between the Battery Maritime Building and Old Slip will be extended out over the water, allowing for safe passage along a widened sidewalk and bikeway. Pier 15 at Maiden Lane, which was demolished in 2001, will be reconstructed as a two-level pier reminiscent of the two-level piers that used to line the East River in the late 19th century. It will feature maritime uses on the lower level with boat docking facilities on three sides and a maritime educational component. The upper level will feature lawns and seating for passive recreation. Pier 35 at Rutgers Slip will be renovated and open to the public to provide much-needed landscaped space along the waterfront. Pier 35 will also an innovative habitat restoration park, funded by a grant from the New York State Department of State Division of Coastal Resources, which will recreate the native plants and wildlife of the East River. Waterfront steps will be created at Wall Street, Pike Slip, and Rutgers Slip to provide visitors the opportunity to get closer to the water’s edge.

To create vital nodes of activity and attract local residents and visitors to the waterfront, several enclosed pavilions will be constructed at strategic locations in the plan area for commercial, food, recreation-related, community or other innovative uses. It is anticipated that the tenants for these pavilions will be selected through a competitive Request for Proposals process. In keeping with the City’s PlaNYC initiatives, sustainability goals have been set to reduce energy demand and consumption, conserve natural resources, improve air quality, and catch and reuse rain water to reduce the storm water runoff into the existing system.

The second phase of the plan calls for the construction of the Battery Maritime Plaza, conversion of Pier 42 at Montgomery Street to public use as an urban beach and boat launch, and completion of the widening of the esplanade from Peck Slip to Pike Slip. When complete, the East River Esplanade will be a critical link in the continuation of the Manhattan Greenway.

The plan for the East River Esplanade project was developed over a period of years in close consultation with New York City Economic Development Corporation, Department of City Planning, Department of Park and Recreation, Department of Transportation, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, local elected officials, and representatives of Community Boards 1 and 3 in Lower Manhattan and the Lower East Side. The design for the Esplanade project was created by SHoP Architects PC with Ken Smith Landscape Architects and Tillotson Design Associates. Jacobs Engineering is the construction manager, and design engineering is by a joint venture of HDR/Arup. The conceptual plan for the East River Esplanade has been recognized for its innovation and excellence. The Department of City Planning and SHoP Architects received the Waterfront Center’s “Excellence on the Waterfront Award” which recognizes high quality waterfront plans and projects from all over the world. SHoP Architects also received the 55th Annual P/A Award in recognition of progressive architecture in the public realm.

The East River Waterfront Esplanade and Piers Project is one of several projects to promote connectivity in Lower Manhattan. The Parks Department is leading the effort to implement waterfront access projects including improvements at Peck Slip, Rutgers Slip, Catherine Slip, and Montgomery Slip. In the South Street Seaport Historic District, Burling Slip is being designed as a creative new children’s playground as part of the City’s initiative for improving the Fulton Street Corridor. New York City Economic Development Corporation and City Planning are coordinating the design teams to ensure that the East River Waterfront not only provides continuous waterfront access and new recreational amenities, but is also integrated with adjacent neighborhoods, linking the Financial District, the Civic Center, Chinatown, and the Lower East Side to the East River.

To download high resolution renderings of the East River Waterfront Esplanade and Piers, visit:


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

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