Q. WHO ARE THE PIER 40 CHAMPIONS?
A. The Pier 40 Champions is a group of concerned parents from the neighborhood youth sports leagues. We have a growing concern that field time is diminishing for our kids due to both the rapid rise in population and the continuing degradation of the pier itself.
Q. WHAT ARE THE PIER 40 CHAMPIONS’ GOALS?
A. SUSTAIN Pier 40 and its fields. GROW Pier 40, by renewing and expanding the fields and by enhancing Pier 40’s utility to the community. We envision a bright future for Pier 40 and field space throughout our neighborhoods for future generations and us.
Q. WHY DO YOU WANT TO ADD MORE Athletic FIELDS AT THE PIER?
A. There is an exploding population of young families on the Lower West Side and many of them want their children to play sports. Our neighborhoods have the worst access to fields of any in Manhattan and Pier 40 is the only place big enough to fit more.
Q. WHAT IS THE “TRUST”?
A. Hudson River Park Trust, the entity that runs all of Hudson River Park. Hudson River Park Trust is a partnership between New York State and City charged with the design, construction and operation of the four-mile Hudson River Park. The Trust has an executive team that runs daily operations, but its Board makes the development decisions.
Q: WHAT IS AN AIR RIGHTS TRANSFER?
A: If a building adjacent to a construction site is lower than neighborhood-zoning laws allow, the developer can acquire the building’s unused air space, add it to her project, and erect a taller building.
Q. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE AIR RIGHTS TRANSFER?
A. We will support the transfer of air rights IF the revenue is used in support of Pier 40 Champions goals.After many years of trying to solve the riddle of Pier 40, this is a solution that could work. With $100 million or more needed for repairs before any development can be done at Pier 40, a Request for Proposals issued now would yield the same old terrible ideas for retail and entertainment super projects we have rejected in the past. But with the $100 million from the air rights transfer, the Trust will be able to fix the pier and then issue a Request for Proposals that will, hopefully, result in proposals that don’t overwhelm the pier and allow for more field development. Don’t worry; we will be watching closely what happens.
Q. WHAT’S WRONG WITH PIER 40 THE WAY IT IS NOW? WILL IT FALL INTO THE WATER??
A. Pier 40 has the best fields in the city, but they are housed in a huge, crumbling industrial building. The pilings supporting the pier, the building, and the fields are deteriorating and must be repaired in order for the pier to stay open. The Trust can no longer afford to do the repairs. And there is a larger long-term complicating issue: Pier 40 is required under the Act to make money to support the maintenance of the whole Hudson River Park. Thus, not only is there a current threat of closure if it is not repaired, it must also be maintained so future development is possible. We need to act now, to address the infrastructure of the pier, so the fields are not condemned by inspectors and closed indefinitely.
Q. WHY CAN’T THE CITY AND THE STATE PAY FOR PARK MAINTENANCE?
A. The park is governed by the State, under the care of the HRPT. Though both city and state contribute minimally to the HRP, it’s not nearly enough. According to the law that created the park, Hudson River Park must pay for its own maintenance. On the flip side, unlike other parks where revenue goes to the City general fund, income earned by the Trust is dedicated solely for park use. Pier 40 is supposed to be self-sustaining and help pay for park maintenance. Instead, it is currently operating in the red.
Q. SO WHAT’S THE RUSH?
A. Pier 40 is costing more each year to repair than the revenue that comes in from parking. The status quo is unsustainable. As deterioration continues, at some point repair and restoration will longer be viable.
Q. IT SEEMS LIKE THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON FOREVER. WHAT IS THE HISTORY?
A. A timeline might help.
1962 Pier 40 opens as major ocean liner passenger terminal. Passenger services end in the late 1960s.
1998 Hudson River Park Act establishes Hudson River Park, including Pier 40 as one of the “commercial nodes” that is to generate income to maintain the whole park. The Act limits the development at Pier 40 to the following commercial uses: retail, entertainment, water-dependent uses, car parking and preserves space equivalent to 50 percent of the pier for public recreational use.
2003 Four proposals submitted for Pier 40 development include big box store, aquarium/retail complex, and a limited commercial development requiring substantial public subsidies were considered by the Trust but development was delayed to attempt a more satisfying balance between community and commercial objectives for Pier 40.
2004 Construction of 3.5 acres of flexible athletic fields in the interior courtyard of Pier 40.
2005 Market Scan Report prepared for the Trust to frame viable commercial development.
2007 Two proposals submitted for Pier 40 development. Related’s proposal for a Cirque du Soleil theater, concert halls, restaurants and retail deemed “Vegas on the Hudson” generates large community opposition. More than 1,000 people join a rally at the pier. Camp Group’s plan for recreation and education is the other plan.
2008 Pier 40 Partnership prepares feasibility study putting repairs costs at $125 million and suggesting community supported uses. Trust board rejects Related and Camp Group proposals.
2012 $50,000 from local youth sports organizations gets the pier’s sports fields up and running again after they suffered damage during Hurricane Sandy.
2013 Two development ideas are suggested; neither is accepted. Trying to find a path forward, Pier 40 Champions proposed building two residential towers to raise funds and cover the costs of improved and expanded playing fields on the pier. The Durst Organization proposed keeping a parking lot on the site and adding extra office space and retail tenants in order to finance the fields and the pier’s general upkeep.
Hudson River Park Act amended to allow the trust to sell air rights for developments up to one block east of the park’s boundaries, across the West Side Highway. The law also expands some of the allowable commercial uses at Pier 40, as well as others designated for development in the park. In addition to entertainment and retail, developers will be able to build film and television studios, schools, amusement rides and performing arts spaces.
2013-14 The trust invests in emergency repairs to pier’s roof and stairwells to keep pier open.
2015 St. John’s Project/Air Rights Transfer. The buildings just west of the pier would be turned into a mixed-use development, with retail, commercial space, and some 1,500 new apartments, including affordable and senior housing. Under the deal, the developer will pay the trust approximately $100 million dollars for Pier 40’s air rights. The plan is subject to the ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) process, which includes community board hearings, City Planning Commission hearings, City Council hearings, State level approvals, and debate.
2016 Community Board 2 approves Air Rights Transfer to SJC with many reservations and specific stipulations. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer rejects the deal (MBP PDF). Both CB2 and MBP have advisory roles only. Carl Weisbrod of the DCP approves the deal with slight modifications (DCP Amenities Options). City Council to provide final word on Air Rights Transfer in early November 2016. P40C and the voice of members must be heard before the Council meets or we will won’t have a voice in determining the fate of Pier 40.