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Rotting Pier A Needs Nearly $1M More in Work, Officials Say

By Julie Shapiro | January 31, 2012 1:14pm
Pier A's structure is rotting, officials said.
Pier A's structure is rotting, officials said.
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Battery Park City Authority

BATTERY PARK CITY — Workers restoring the landmarked Pier A have discovered even more rotten wood on the historic structure, bumping up the cost for the massive redevelopment project by nearly $1 million, officials said Tuesday.

The Battery Park City Authority, which is repairing the 126-year-old Battery Park City pier to transform it into an oyster bar and catering hall, recently sent divers into the Hudson River to examine Pier A's supports, BPCA President Gayle Horwitz said.

Based on the divers' Jan. 13 findings, the project's engineers recommended replacing three columns, 21 spandrel beams and 21 arches — for a total cost of nearly $625,000, Horwitz said.

Workers also recently discovered a problem with the foundation beneath Pier A's plaza, which will cost a little more than $305,000 to repair, Horwitz said.

"We continue to find timber rot in the building," Horwitz said Tuesday morning, during a meeting of the Battery Park City Authority's board. "It is not insignificant in terms of cost."

Horwitz announced earlier in January that the budget for Pier A's restoration had swelled from $30 million to $36 million, partly because of previous discoveries of rotten wood. The pier's opening has been delayed from 2012 until at least the middle of 2013.

Before voting to approve the $930,000 increased payment to contractor Stalco Construction on Tuesday morning, several BPCA board members voiced concern that the authority is still continuing to uncover structural problems four years after taking over the troubled pier from the city.

"I'm really surprised that all of a sudden we're discovering more timber rot," said Robert Mueller, an Authority board member. "I'm a little disappointed, frankly. I think it's something we should have anticipated."

Bill Thompson, chairman of the Authority, replied that the blame lay with some of the early contractors who worked on the project.

"We've played catch-up on this," Thompson said. "Those who were supposed to go through this at the beginning didn't do their job."

Gwen Dawson, senior vice president of asset management for the Authority, added that previous developers who worked on the pier in the 1990s actually did more to harm the building than to help it. Some of the beams that must now be replaced are not from the pier's original construction, but from shoddy work done less than 20 years ago, she said.

The money to cover the new $930,000 cost increase for the project will come from a contingency fund that is part of the recently increased $36 million budget, Dawson said. The contingency fund will now have a little more than $1 million left, she said.  

Pier A opened in 1886 as headquarters for the New York Harbor Police and Department of Docks, before later serving as an FDNY fireboat station and workshop.

The pier has sat unused behind a construction fence for more than a decade.