NYC’s Pier 57 Attracts Trio of Renovation Proposals

At the edge of Manhattan’s Meat Packing District in Chelsea, Pier 57 abuts an area that has seen a burst of activity over the last decade. Located at the end of West 15th St. and encompassing some 375,000 square feet of waterfront space plus rooftop area, the pier is now the focus for three bids for renovation.The Hudson River Trust, which controls the pier site, started receiving proposals in October, and will now decide between visions from The Durst Organization and C&K Properties; The Related Cos.; and Youngwoo and Associates L.L.C. The Durst and C&K submission proposes a total development budget of approximately $330 million, Related’s budget is approximately $353 million, and Youngwoo and Associates’ budget is about $191 million. Connie Fishman, president of the Hudson River Park Trust, told CPN, “Today is the first day that the details are open to the public for view. We needed to digest what was in the proposals. Highlights of all the proposals include the concept of the big public market, similar to the San Fransisco Ferry Building.“ Fishman, who hails from San Fransisco, admits, “And that is something that would be very exciting to me. It would bring a lot of vitality to the waterfront.” Other highlights nestled in the proposals include plenty of open spaces, plus parking spaces, a home for the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, a miniature golf course, a theater, river education centers, art galleries, performance spaces, an auction house/culture center and more. The Trust will eventually grant the proposal along with a 49-year lease. Joanna Rose, a vice president at The Related Cos. said, “We think Pier 57 offers a fantastic opportunity to create a new amenity for both the community and the city. The revitalization of our waterfront is important to our city, and Pier 57 is part of an exciting new community with great energy and excitement and in which we are already deeply involved.” Related’s plan (pictured) proposes a diverse group of uses built around waterfront activity and open space–a food marketplace and cafes, maritime education, public spaces, a headhouse park (designed by the High Line landscape architects–Field Operations) and film theaters. Their proposal includes comprehensive historic preservation of the building and a state-of-the-art ecological automated parking system. Ben Korman, principal of C&K Properties said, “We see Pier 57 as a center of activity within Hudson River Park that celebrates the pedestrian and bicycle friendly fabric of the existing neighborhood. Our plan extends the unique and vibrant mixture of public space, cultural amenities, restaurants and retail in the West Village and Chelsea out onto the pier and we look forward to collaborating with the community to create an exciting destination with a true sense of place.” Obviously, the choice amongst the three offers is not going to be easy, and particularly because the potential income that could be produced at Pier 57 will be important for decades. The Trust will be working with financial and real estate consultants as well as a working group of the Community Advisory Council now to review the proposals. A formal public hearing, probably at some point in February, will be held, Fishman explained, where any member of the public can come and give testimony, plus there will be a comment period for 60 days, when anyone can send comments and weigh in with their opinions. Why the big difference in the proposed budgets? The lowest budget (coming from YWA) is low in part because they employ an architectural feature that would reuse shipping containers as modular spaces. Urban Space Management would sublease for more than 80 small designer businesses, and a theater for the Tribeca Film Festival would also become a permanent fixture. Youngwoo and Associates proposes establishing the Contemporary Culture Center and galleries, auctions and performance spaces. Fishman said, “Once we approve a lease with the board, the developer needs to go through both an environmental impact statement and a land use review. We begin the 49-year lease when they put the first shovel in the ground.” Her guess is that construction could begin in two years.