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Barry Diller to Build $130M Park and Performance Space on Hudson River

By Danielle Tcholakian | November 17, 2014 10:36am
 Renderings of Pier55 depict an amphitheater and hill-covered parkland.
Pier55 Renderings
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MANHATTAN — A new $130 million waterfront park and performance space called Pier55 will replace the crumbling Pier 54, thanks to a pledge from a nonprofit led by billionaire Barry Diller and fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg.

The couple's Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation will fund the construction of the new 2.7-acre public space, which will extend out into the Hudson River, officials announced Monday morning.

"We are so lucky as a family that we get to do this," Diller said in a statement. "If the Pier when completed is anywhere as much sheer fun, strife, stimulation and joy as it has been conceptualizing it... then it will exceed my wildest expectations."

Pier55 would be surrounded on all sides by water, connected to Hudson River Park via an $18 million set of state-funded pathways between Bloomfield Street and 14th Street.

Diller tapped a big-name team to help with the project, including film producer Scott Rudin as the vice chairman and director Stephen Daldry and playwright George C. Wolfe to plan the pier's programming. The executive director for programming will be Kate Horton, formerly with the National Theater in London.

Pier55 wants to secure a 20-year lease on the property, which has yet to be approved by the Hudson River Park Trust's board of directors. The vote can only be scheduled after a mandatory 60-day public review period, which is set to start on Monday, a spokesman for the Trust said.

The proposal will be presented to Community Board 2 in December.

Construction is set to begin in 2016, but officials did not release an opening date for the pier.

Under the proposed 20-year lease, Diller and von Furstenberg's nonprofit would fund the maintenance, landscaping and lighting on the pier and would also manage the pier's programming.

Most of the programs would be either free or low-cost, to provide "maximum public access" to the pier, according to a press release about the project.

The Hudson River Park Trust would help with the day-to-day operations on the pier, and the city will put in $17 million toward the construction.

The park will be designed by Heatherwick Studio and Mathews Nielsen. In a statement, Signe Nielsen promised "unexpected topography and captivating physical, visual, and cultural experiences found nowhere else in the city, much less on the waterfront."

The pilings for piers 54 and 56 will remain on either side of the new pier, as they are a crucial part of the river's natural eco-system, providing sustenance for fish.