MEATPACKING DISTRICT — The controversial Barry Diller-funded Pier55 park had its permit yanked by a Manhattan federal judge — who ruled the Army Corps of Engineers should never have allowed it to be built in a wildlife sanctuary.
Manhattan Federal Judge Lorna G. Schofield on Thursday revoked the permit for the Hudson River Park Trust's plan to build the project on the Hudson River, below 14th Street — saying the greenspace was intended to be an estuarine sanctuary "to protect fish and wildlife resources," not a concert and party space.
“A project whose fundamental goal is to provide park and performance space is not water dependent, regardless of whether the Trust prefers to build such space on a pier,” Schofield wrote in her decision, which comes after nearly a year of legal battles over the multimillion dollar project.
Schofield also shot down the Army Corps’ finding that the project site wasn’t primarily created for “resource protection.”
The New York State Legislature “clearly stated that its intent in creating the Estuarine Sanctuary was to protect fish and wildlife resources, without expressing any additional purpose,” she wrote.
The ruling marks a victory for the City Club of New York, Rob Buchanan and Tom Fox — staunch opponents of the project who’d previously been dealt losses in lower courts, in New York State Supreme Court and with the state’s Court of Appeals.
Opponents argued that the Hudson River Park Trust did not do an adequate environmental review of the project — which was slated to add a massive amphitheater. The Hudson River Park Trust had previously dismissed the lawsuit as "ridiculous" and said the space would have been a "vibrant" addition to the waterfront.
The attorney for the project's opponents said on Friday that he predicted it would be “very hard” for the Trust, Diller and the park’s other backers to revive the project in light of Thursday's ruling,.
“Right now, it is comatose after this decision, and I think that if they completely redesigned the project, they might be able to revive it, or if they win on appeal,” Richard Emery told DNAinfo New York, calling the decision a “very thoughtful, very carefully-analyzed ruling.”
A spokesman for the trust on Friday said it is now “reviewing the ruling to determine next steps.”
The trust had previously said it planned to open the park in 2019.
“We have won four challenges in four courts and are deeply disappointed by this decision,” the spokesman said in a statement.