Volume 17, Number 33 | May 06 - 12, 2005

Downtown Express photo by Lincoln Anderson

Construction workers were building the Gansevoort garage addition last Friday, but the city has now put a hold on the project.

City halts garage work in Hudson Park

By Albert Amateau

In a deal brokered last week by State Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman, the Department of Sanitation has agreed to voluntarily cease construction of the temporary garage that it began in January on the Gansevoort Peninsula.
The agreement, pending further hearings on the lawsuit by Friends of Hudson River Park seeking to get the Sanitation Department off Pier 97 as well as the Gansevoort Peninsula, could be the first step in the broader long-sought goal of freeing the full 5 miles of the Hudson River waterfront park for park use.

“This is something that cries out for a reasonable solution,” Stallman said to Daniel Alterman, attorney for Friends, and Susan E. Amron, representing the city, at the April 29 hearing on the Friends’ application for a temporary restraining order against further work on the two-story garage. Sanitation has said the “temporary” two-story structure could serve until 2012 or beyond.

“It seems to me that eight years is somewhat long,” said Stallman. “But it also seems fair to everybody to have a finite term of [Sanitation] use, known to everybody and legally enforceable,” he added.

“We also want to make sure we don’t create a short-term problem by precipitously forcing these uses onto other communities,” Stallman said. He set Thursday May 7 for more discussion on the issue, and asked Amron for Sanitation’s voluntary agreement to cease work on the garage. The department agreed on Monday afternoon to cease work as of Wednesday.

Alterman said on Tuesday that he was gratified that Sanitation has agreed to cease construction on the garage. “I’d be pleased if this leads to a more global agreement to make the Hudson waterfront free of Sanitation uses much earlier that 2012,” he added.

Albert Butzel, president of Friends of Hudson River Park, a community group advocating for the 5-mile riverfront park being built between the Battery and 59th Sts., said, “It’s early in the action but it’s a step forward to get Sanitation off the waterfront and get some rent for the park in the meantime.”

The suit also wants the court to set “a reasonable rent or use and occupancy payment” that the city must pay to the Hudson Park Trust for the continued occupancy of Pier 97 and most of the peninsula from the Dec. 31, 2003, deadline set in legislation until Sanitation leaves.

The suit charges that the Sanitation Department’s continued use of the peninsula to park garbage trucks violates the 1998 Hudson River Park Act by not using its best efforts to get off the waterfront before the deadline. Sanitation’s response to the Friends’ complaint says the department has been diligently working to relocate the garbage truck parking. The effort involves six garages for Manhattan districts in Lower Manhattan, the Village, Chelsea, Midtown and the East Side and the Upper West Side.

“The District 2 garage now at the Gansevoort Peninsula, the District 5 garage now at E. 73rd St. and the overflow from District 1 [Lower Manhattan] will eventually be relocated at a new site,” the reply says.

One possibility for the new site, according to Sanitation Department spokesperson Kathy Dawkins, is the 800,000-square-foot U.P.S. parking lot between Washington and West Sts. stretching north of Spring St.

Conjecture among real estate people is that U.P.S. has selected the Brodsky Organization to develop the site but the city is moving to take it for Sanitation under eminent domain. Bob Godlewski, U.P.S. spokesperson, said, “We’re continuing to try to maximize the value of our property there and we have to protect the facilities that we have there already. We have a staging area for tractor-trailers there.”

However, the southern part of the Hudson Sq. neighborhood, formerly known as the Printing District, is increasingly becoming a high-end residential area, and was recently rezoned for residential use. Just north of the site and a block east on Greenwich St., more than 200 units of luxury housing have gone on the market with condos selling for more than $2 million. More luxury apartments are on the way, including one on Washington St. just south of Spring St., planned by Vendome Realty to be designed by the firm of the late Philip Johnson.


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