Volume 17, Number 42 | March 11 - 17, 2005

Ideas for Pier 40 include aquarium, marina to education

By Albert Amateau

The Hudson River Park Trust this week presented a 26-page marketing study on permanent development possibilities for the 14-acre Pier 40 at Houston St. to the Community Board 2 waterfront committee and concluded an aquarium, marina or educational facility among the more feasible options.

The study had 10 potential options. However, one of them, a big-box retailer, doesn’t stand a chance of getting community approval, the study acknowledges. Four other of the 10 possibilities were deemed likely to be feasible, four were maybes and one was deemed not likely to be feasible.

But one permanent use that has long found a popular constituency on the West Side, public parking on at least part of the 1.2 million sq. ft. of space on the two-story pier, was not one of the main options in the study by Bay Area Economics, of Berkley, Calif.

However, the study noted that long-term parking for 2,300 cars is still part of the pier’s uses under the 2003 amendment to the state legislation creating the Hudson River Park.

Noreen Doyle, H.R.P.T. vice president who attended the March 7 committee meeting with Connie Fishman, H.R.P.T. president, told Downtown Express that the parking option was not among the conclusions because everyone knows it is popular and economically feasible, and didn’t have to be analyzed.

Nevertheless, the study mentioned parking as a possibility with the other 10 uses. Fishman told the committee that the Trust was not yet ready to issue a new Request for Proposals to develop Pier 40, the largest pier in the five-mile riverfront park being built between Chambers and 59th Sts.

An aquarium was one possibility but the study acknowledged that the first Request for Expressions of Interest attracted an aquarium among three other developers. The H.R.P.T. board of trustees decided in 2003 to reject all the responses in favor of temporary development. The study said the aquarium option would have to be “refined” from the earlier proposal.

One potentially feasible option in the study was an educational facility, but no likely sponsor has been identified. Another option, a meeting and event venue, also has potential but no likely sponsor appears interested in Pier 40 where by law, 50 percent of the space must be devoted to public recreation. Special office uses and space for artists and hobbyists are likely to attract private developers, the study says.

A marina/boat center might be feasible and would likely attract private developers, the study says. Museums uses are also possible, but no prospects are on the horizon. Use of the pier as a public market might also be feasible, but despite hopes by some advocates that the wholesale flower market might lead the way, the study was not able to identify a lead organization. A “specialty retail cluster” was not considered a likely scenario.

The study also suggests the Trust could decide to develop the pier itself, but that would require a change in state legislation.

Albert@DowntownExpress.com


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