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Summer Construction Complete at Barry Diller-Funded Island Park

 The first nine piles that will support the Barry Diller-funded Pier55 park were driven in, despite three pending lawsuits.
The first nine piles that will support the Barry Diller-funded Pier55 park were driven in, despite three pending lawsuits.
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Courtesy of Pier55 Inc.

MEATPACKING DISTRICT — The planned summer construction for the Barry Diller-funded island park on the Hudson River is complete, a spokesman for the project said.

Diller is putting forward $130 million for a new pier off Hudson River Park just below 14th Street, known as Pier55. Over the past few weeks, Hunter Robert Construction Group drove in the first nine piles that will support the new pier between the dilapidated pilings of the former Piers 54 and 56.

The nine piles mark the initial work of the first phase of construction and had to be driven in this summer in order to meet the pier's construction timeline of completion in 2019.

The construction almost didn't happen, however, thanks to three lawsuits pending against the project in various state courts.

The lawsuits were brought by a civic organization, the City Club of New York, and a local environmentalist, Rob Buchanan, who believe the review of the environmental impacts of the construction was not thorough enough and take issue with the fact that the Hudson River Park Trust may charge money for some performances in Pier55's eventual 700-person amphitheater.

The amphitheater will host arts performances amid 2.7 acres of walking paths, open lawns, seating areas and undulating hills designed by Thomas Heatherwick and landscape architect Signe Nielsen.

► PHOTOS: Pier55 Renderings Reveal Hills for Sunbathing and Sledding

The nonprofit organization that Diller and his wife, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, formed with the Hudson River Park Trust to support the park, Pier 55 Inc., plans to partner with schools and provide performance and arts opportunities for emerging local talent, a spokesman for the organization said.

“We’re thrilled to be taking the first steps in what will become a transformative public park for the community,” said Pier55 Inc. Project Manager Celine Armstrong in a statement. “We look forward to continuing construction this fall and making Pier55 a reality for all New Yorkers.”

Buchanan and City Club lost an initial lawsuit to stop the park's construction when a judge found their arguments "without merit." They appealed that decision in state court, and launched two other lawsuits against the Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Conservation after both entities approved the park plans.

They won a temporary halt on construction in June, but the Trust and Pier55 Inc.'s attorneys succeeded in persuading the judge to lift that injunction a few weeks later.

READ MORE: Barry Diller Park Clear to Move Forward After Court Lifts Injunction

City Club's lawsuits in all three courts are still ongoing, the lawyer for the organization said, and the next date for the appeals case is Sept. 6.