Volume 16 • Issue 51 | May 14 - 20, 2004

C.B. 1 leaders voice concerns over West Side plan

By Elizabeth O’Brien

Community Board 1 voiced concern over the proposed Hudson Yards project, saying the proposal to build a stadium and as much as 28 million square feet of office space on the far West Side could draw resources away from Lower Manhattan redevelopment.

At an executive committee meeting on May 12, board members discussed a resolution that would recommend deferring the construction of any new West Side business district until the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan is complete. The resolution was proposed by Yvonne Morrow, a former long-time aide to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and a member of the Hell’s Kitchen/Hudson Yard Alliance, and is expected to be introduced at the C.B. 1 monthly full-board meeting on May 18.

In an interview with Downtown Express several weeks ago, Silver said he had similar concerns about the West Side project and said he would use his veto power over Metropolitan Transportation Authority capital projects to block the extension of the 7 train to the West Side, until he was convinced Lower Manhattan concerns were being addressed.

Market forces will dictate the pace of rebuilding at the World Trade Center site, so it remains unclear when, if ever, the full 10 million square feet of office space proposed for the site will be completed. Further doubt was cast on the timing and extent of Lower Manhattan redevelopment earlier this month when a U.S. District Court jury issued a verdict that the attack on the Twin Towers represented a single occurrence, limiting the insurance money that W.T.C. leaseholder Larry Silverstein has available for rebuilding.

In light of these factors, community members said the city should carefully consider whether to promote office space that would compete with Lower Manhattan. Once construction begins on the Hudson Yards project, it would have to proceed on a strict timetable to pay the bonds financing it, they said, and it would coincide with Lower Manhattan rebuilding.

“There’s only so much demand,” said Brain Hatch, an advisor to the Hell’s Kitchen/ Hudson Yards Alliance who runs the Web site www.newyorkgames.org.

“I think the city has to be a lot more thoughtful proceeding with this on that timetable,” said Madelyn Wils, chair of C.B. 1.


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