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City Seeks New Profitable Ideas for Seaport's Pier 15

By Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

SOUTH STREET SEAPORT — The city is looking for new moneymaking ideas for Pier 15, after rejecting previous proposals for not generating enough of a profit.

The city released a new request for proposals for the pier on Tuesday, expanding the scope of what the future operator will be able to do to make money.

In addition to running a maritime education center on the double-decker pier near the South Street Seaport, the operator will also run profit-making boat trips and will be allowed to use some of the pier for retail.

Seth Pinsky, president of the city's Economic Development Corporation (EDC), said in a statement that the money collected from Pier 15 would "support the long-term future of [the] public waterfront esplanade" adjacent to the pier.

Earlier this year, the city cut off discussions with at least two nonprofit groups that had applied in 2010 to run the maritime education center.

One of those groups was Rivers Alive, which was founded to bring New Yorkers closer to the water. Rivers Alive proposed putting computer kiosks on the pier to teach visitors about the history of the harbor and the plants and animals that call it home, co-founder Al Landzberg said.

But a couple months ago, the EDC told Landzberg his proposal wouldn't work because it would not immediately generate a profit.

"We're disappointed, very much so," Landzberg said Tuesday. "We had hoped that the [EDC] would find a way to let one of the nonprofit organizations take over the maritime pavilion."

The financially troubled Seaport Museum New York also applied to run programs on the pier and was also turned down, Landzberg and other sources said.

Landzberg said he now hopes to team up with an established boat company to bring his ideas for Pier 15 to life, since he doesn't have enough backing to run the large for-profit operation the city now envisions.

Proposals for Pier 15 are due by Aug. 9, and the pier will be ready for fit-out this fall, the city said.

Pier 15 is just one part of the new $150 million East River Waterfront, which will eventually run from the Battery Maritime Building to the Lower East Side.

The first section of the waterfront park, between Maiden Lane and Wall Street, has been delayed several times and is now scheduled to open in mid-July, according to the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center.

That two-block section includes a much-anticipated 4,300-square-foot oval dog run, a set of steps leading down to the river, tables, seating and landscaping.