Sale of Hudson River Park Air Rights Could Fund Pier 40 Repairs

By Andrea Swalec on June 20, 2013 5:28pm | Updated on June 21, 2013 9:12am

 A bill passed in the New York State Assembly June 20, 2013 would allow the Hudson River Park to sell its unused development rights to fund much-needed Pier 40 repairs.
A bill passed in the New York State Assembly June 20, 2013 would allow the Hudson River Park to sell its unused development rights to fund much-needed Pier 40 repairs.
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DNAinfo/Andrea Swalec

WEST VILLAGE — The New York State Assembly passed a bill Thursday to fund repairs to crumbling and cash-poor Pier 40 through the sale of the Hudson River Park's air rights.

In the latest twist to 30 years of debate over the redevelopment of the West Village pier, the bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, would allow the Hudson River Park Trust to sell its unused development rights to properties located as far as one block east of the riverside park, with all profits funding repairs to Pier 40. The rights could be used by properties along the length of the park, stretching from Battery Place to West 59th Street.

The bill would also expand the allowable commercial uses of Pier 40, making possible the development of restaurants, television and film studios, schools and small amusement rides like carousels.

Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, who opposed previous proposals for residential development on the pier, said the bill she co-sponsored would allow the Trust to raise needed funds without disrupting recreational uses of the 550-acre space.

"This legislation strikes a balance between financial support and protecting public space," she said in a statement. "I am glad that any sale of the air rights from Pier 40 will directly be used to repair and secure Pier 40's infrastructure, thus ensuring that playing fields utilized by children and adults will continue to exist for generations."

The bill still needs State Senate approval and was referred to the rules committee Thursday, but it is expected to pass.

Longtime Pier 40 advocate Tobi Bergman — who introduced a plan earlier this year to create residential towers near the pier in exchange for additional field space — called the bill a start toward generating the revenue the Trust needs.

"This is the first and simplest step, and it could lead to a lot of funding for the park," he said, noting that developers will likely need the city to approve zoning changes near the Hudson River so taller buildings may be constructed there.

The bill would also add a $2 surcharge to passenger fees for boats that embark or disembark within the boundaries of the park, with the exception of ferries.

Additionally, the legislation asks the city to relocate the tow pound on Pier 76, near West 38th Street, so the Trust can convert half the pier into park space.

Hudson River Park Trust President and CEO Madelyn Wils praised the legislation.

"HRPT considers this to be a major milestone in the journey of placing the park back on the road to self-sustainability," she said in a statement.

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