Two plans, many questions; Pier 40 forum coming up

A rendering by WXY Architects of what Pier 40 could look like under the Pier 40 Champions plan. The concept includes an elevated jogging track that would ring the pier’s large central courtyard.

A rendering by WXY Architects of what Pier 40 could look like under the Pier 40 Champions plan. The concept includes an elevated jogging track that would ring the pier’s large central courtyard.

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON  |  With two competing proposals recently having been floated for Pier 40, Community Board 2 will hold a forum on Thurs., Feb. 28, on the ongoing, contentious issue of how best to redevelop the sprawling West Houston St. pier.

One of the plans is by a coalition of local youth sports leagues called Pier 40 Champions. Their proposal calls for the construction of two residential towers sited just east of Pier 40 on parkland within the Hudson River Park. Revenue from the towers would help fund repairs and redevelopment of the 15-acre, three-story pier, which needs tens of millions of dollars to fix up its corroded steel support piles and eroded concrete roof. However, the payoff for the youth leagues is that the pier would be opened up for increased use for sports fields. The Villager profiled the Champions plan this past summer, but since then, they have revised it so that it now includes even more field space.

The rival concept for Pier 40 is by Douglas Durst, former chairperson of the Friends of Hudson River Park, who is partnering with Ben Korman, who formerly ran the pier’s parking operation. An adaptive reuse plan, it would utilize the pier’s existing shed structure for a mix of high-tech office space and retail, along with parking. Durst is not an advocate for housing either on Pier 40 or anywhere in the park.

Allowing housing in the Hudson River Park would require the state Legislature to modify the Hudson River Park Act of 1998, which prohibits residential use.

Meanwhile, the Hudson River Park Trust appears favorable toward the Pier 40 Champions plan, with its residential component, as a solution for helping save both Pier 40 and the entire 5-mile-long park, yet, at the same time, is also interested in the idea of parking stackers, as contained in the Durst plan.

The park is suffering a serious cash flow problem, which will only worsen in coming years, according to the Trust, as state and city funding have tapered off.

The Hudson River Park is supposed to be financially self-sustaining, and Pier 40 is one of its primary designated commercial “nodes.” However, under the park act, 50 percent of the pier’s footprint also must remain for open park use.

The Villager recently sat down for an interview with Madelyn Wils, president of the Hudson River Park Trust, the state-city authority that operates the park, and Michael Novogratz, the new chairperson of the Friends of Hudson River Park. Novogratz, formerly a board member of the Trust, switched over to the Friends — the park’s leading fundraising arm — after Durst bailed from the Friends at the end of last year, Durst publicly stating he disagreed with the Trust’s direction on Pier 40.

Wils and Novogratz are sending the message that — after the fallout with Durst —things are now “kumbaya” between the Trust and Friends, that they’re on the same page, regarding the park and, especially, Pier 40.

Wils noted that the Trust has retained a leading commercial real estate advisory firm, Newmark Grubb Night Frank, to crunch the financials for both the Champions and the Durst plans to assess their feasibility in terms of generating the needed millions in revenue for the park.

“What we’re looking for is the most risk averse plan for the pier,” Wils said, acknowledging that that is the same as “least risky.”

Asked if she supported the Pier 40 Champions plan, she responded, “I’m not signing onto any project, but the residential on the upland [part of the park, as opposed to on the pier itself] gives more parkland on Pier 40. … I’m a parkie.”

She added that more options for Pier 40 are needed, and that, “The best way to get more options is to open the act up,” as in modify the legislation to allow currently illegal uses, such as housing.

Novogratz admitted he has “big shoes to fill,” in following park advocate and philanthropist Durst.

“The Friends board is going to be big and diverse,” Novogratz stated, adding, “The real mission is to walk side by side” with the Trust, though noting that the two organizations are separate and distinct for a reason.

Novogratz, president of Fortress Investment Group, said that there are a lot of “wealthy, creative people” who live along the park from Tribeca up through the Village and Chelsea, and that he’s confident they’ll be able to tap into that pool to fundraise for the park.

“If we haven’t raised substantially more money over the next five years, I would see our tenure as a failure,” he said, referring to the previous five years of fundraising by the Friends.

“This is not being done to make a half a million dollar donation to the park each year,” he stressed. “This is the richest city in America and a ton of people use this park.”

He was joined at the sit-down by Scott Lawin, the new vice chairperson of the Friends, who replaces Korman, who resigned from the group along with Durst last December. Novogratz and Lawin — who is the managing director of Moore Capital Management — noted they had just hosted a fundraiser in Tribeca for the park the previous night that netted a cool $200,000. Both Novogratz and Lawin live in Tribeca.

The Trust and Friends are also pushing a plan for a neighborhood improvement district, or NID, that would extend two or three blocks inland from the park to assess property owners a small tax each year. The revenue would be used to help with the park’s maintenance and even capital costs and would also fund upkeep of the highway median, and create safer highway crossings, among other things.

Wils added, “The park needs the NID, the park needs private funding and the park needs to generate funding from the revenue nodes [designated piers].”

As for the ideal plan for Pier 40, Novogratz said, “There’s a great line a judge had about pornography — ‘I know it when I see it.’ That’s what I think it’ll be like with Pier 40 — when there’s a good plan, we’ll know it when we see it: Someone comes up with the idea of residential on the upland… Stacking cars might be a piece of it,” he said, referring to automated parking stackers, which are featured in the Durst plan, as a way to consolidate the pier’s parking operation, to free up space for other revenue-generating uses.

Asked how any plan with residential use would be O.K.’d if all the local legislators oppose it — which currently appears to be the case — Wils downplayed that issue.

“I don’t think asking our opinion about what the elected officials will do is very useful,” she said.

“At the end of the day, we’re dealing with a 15-acre piece of infrastructure that’s severely debilitated — and it’s getting worse,” she emphasized.

“If a fairy godmother gave us infinite sums, would I put residential on the pier? No,” Novogratz said, adding, “I wouldn’t put parking on the pier either. I wouldn’t put anything there. You gotta try to figure out the Rubik’s Cube — and it’s complicated.”

Asked about the Durst plan, Wils indicated she’d simply like to see more options, in general. The problem, she said, is really that there hasn’t been a comparison of “three or four plans” for the pier. However, she did say, “Intuitively, stacking parking seems like it would work.”

To get a comparison of a larger number of concept plans, Wils continued, it’s necessary to put out a request for proposals, or R.F.P., to developers. However, the Trust can’t cast a wide net for uses if so many of these uses are illegal, she noted. Hence, the need for modifying the park’s legislation.

“We’re pushing to get the legislation done as soon possible,” she said, assuring, “We will get legislation.

“If the local youth leagues came up with that with their architects,” she said, referring to the Champions plan and WXY Architects, the firm they worked with, “what other plans are we not seeing?” In other words, there would be a wealth of ideas out there for Pier 40, if only more uses were allowed for the pier.

“You’ve got to be able to see these ideas side by side, and we haven’t been given that opportunity,” said Lawin.

“We’d like to be able to test the market on pretty much everything,” Wils said. Asked if this included residential, she said, “Really, yeah.”

Novogratz — a major booster of U.S. wrestling, who was wearing a Princeton Wrestling windbreaker during the sit-down — said he could envision some sort of recreation center on Pier 40, with the funding for it raised privately. “Just a big jock,” he said, describing himself after being asked about his wrestling boosterism.

“It’s very difficult to go up to someone and say, ‘Give me $10 million to fix the piles,’ he noted, contrasting that with the attractiveness of ideas like a rec center or other conspicuous uses.

How about the idea of transferring air rights from Pier 40 across the highway to the St. John’s Center building? they were asked. This is an idea that reportedly has been kicking around in real estate circles, and could conceivably generate revenue for the park, though undoubtedly would be controversial.

Wils said, in fact, they have been looking at this, but the idea would be to see if they can transfer all of the park’s air rights to one single site — she didn’t say where that might be — for a development project. The piers, all of which used to have pier sheds, have a floor area ratio of 2.

“We have quite a lot of F.A.R. in the park,” she noted, adding that the Trust is investigating “if we have the ability to sell those air rights off the park into a special district that’s created.” This has been done previously in the South Street Seaport, the Theater District and West Chelsea, she noted, adding, “We’re going to continue to pursue it.”

Novogratz said that a key part of the Friends fundraising ability — as for any fundraiser — is being able to convey “excitement,” and that’s something he clearly feels.

He has four children and has numerous brothers and sisters, and all their nieces and nephews, living Downtown, and they all use the park, he noted. Lawin is married with two children, and they, too, are all big park users.

In related news, Fortress, his firm, recently purchased a controlling share of the St. John’s Center, across from Pier 40. But Novogratz is more on the investment side of the company — not its real estate division — and he and Wils shared a laugh, saying that he didn’t even know about the story until notified by Wils.

Returning to residential use at Pier 40 and whether it’s simply moot if local elected officials oppose it, The Villager polled a number of key pols whose districts include parts of the park.

New state Senator Brad Hoylman stated that he has “serious reservations” about housing at Pier 40.

“I recently met with the parent representatives of Pier 40 Champions to hear their concerns,” he said. “I have tremendous respect for their volunteer efforts and share their fundamental goals. I’m also appreciative of the work that Madelyn Wils is doing at the helm of the Trust in ensuring that there is a discussion of its financial future.

“As I’ve said before, however, I have serious reservations about residential development in the park,” Hoylman said. “These concerns have heightened considerably since the aftermath of Sandy. … Planning a new residential development directly on the waterfront before we understand the impact of Sandy and future surges seems, at best, premature.

“I’m confident,” Hoylman said, “that through a robust public process that involves all the stakeholders, public officials and the community, we’ll find a plan for Pier 40 that is financially viable, expands fields and open space, and has the least possible impact on the park and the surrounding neighborhood.”

State Senator Daniel Squadron cited his “longstanding concerns” about housing in parks.

“It’s great news that there’s a group of stakeholders deeply engaged on Pier 40 — and I’ll continue to work with all of them to find a long-term solution,” he said.

“Whether we’re talking about Hudson River Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park or any public park, I’ve had longstanding concerns about housing on public parkland. Over time, those who live there have a fundamentally different relationship with the park than the broader public.

“We must continue to work together to find sources of funding to stabilize Pier 40 and support Hudson River Park for the long term,” Squadron added. “Each of these visions [Pier 40 Champions and Durst plans] represents a broad concept and will help inform legislative and funding decisions; none are proposals that could be accepted or rejected today.”

Assemblymember Deborah Glick has been a staunch opponent of residential use in the park.

“My position has not altered on the waterfront,” she told The Villager this week. “The proposal that [Pier 40 Champions] is advancing is a very intriguing picture, but has no details. And the Trust, which alleges — Madelyn alleges they have no money — is about to spend money on doing an analysis of it, which I do not really understand because it is not a legal use, and none of the relevant legislators that represent the area support it.

“So, I’m mystified,” Glick said, adding — in a reference to the Durst proposal — “and I think we could have gotten further along if the Trust cooperated on an adaptive reuse plan.”

A recent article in Crain’s about the Pier 40 Champions plan, referring to the opposition of Hoylman and Squadron to housing in the park, was headlined, “Key politicians shoot down new Pier 40 plan.”

However, Tobi Bergman, president of P3 (Pier, Park & Playground Association), a member of the Champions group, felt the statements by the two politicians — who are quoted more extensively in this article — were not deal-breakers, and he expressed confidence in the youth leagues’ eventual success.

“Squadron said he has ‘longstanding concerns’ about housing on parkland, and Hoylman said he has ‘serious reservations,’” Bergman said. “We don’t feel shot down. I know they both understand the importance of providing more sports fields for our growing communities, finding the best solution for Pier 40, and finding a way out of the crisis the park is in.

“We don’t expect elected officials to just say yes,” he noted. “We do expect them to support the needs of their constituents, to respect the hard work we have done, to problem-solve with us, and keep their minds open to all possible solutions, as we are confident they will.”

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32 Responses to Two plans, many questions; Pier 40 forum coming up

  1. The HR Park was built to be a park – not a residential or business district. Trying to rewrite the HRP Act ’98 would be a crime. The people who wrote it knew what they were doing after studying every side of it forward and back. It would be wrong to override their law. There are many residents who don’t troll the local community boards seeking control, who love the Act just as it was originally designed. Not being able to adhere to the original intentions of the Trust is truly a failure of imagination.

    Of course, we’ll “know it when we see it”, and clearly, we have not seen it in either of these 2 plans, or there wouldn’t be so much fighting. It doesn’t seem like running the park financially is the problem. The problem is the 10s of millions of dollars required to fix up Pier 40. Then don’t fix it up! Sink it, make an estuary for wildlife and save the Trust the tons of money that is surely going to run over budget once it’s too late to do anything about. Only then will the much smaller budget be within reason and within the grasp of local philanthropy.

    • Please remember it's not merely residential Ms. Wils and Mr. Bergman is proposing it's the right type of high market luxury housing they are proposing to build in Hudson River Park that will attract the right kind of people to the already over developed West Side of Manhattan.

      • HKres, You can believe it or not, but the Pier 40 Champions objective is solely to ensure the continued and expanded availability of ground level ball fields for the area’s local youth sports leagues. Nobody “wants” residential, we’d all love for it to be wide open space. But, what we need is a financially viable plan that actually creates a park on Pier 40. The only reason residential is being discussed is because it brings in substantially greater revenue per square foot than does parking, office or retail. It is the high revenue/sqft that enables small footprint buildings to fit on upland which then enables the creation of additional ball fields and a true park on the pier itself. If a shoe factory, with elves working in the basement would produce the same revenue with low automotive and pedestrian traffic that would be acceptable, as long as the plan meets our objective of increasing the amount of ground level ball fields to meet the needs of the growing lower west side families. It has absolutely nothing to do with the “right people”.

        Putting ball fields on the roof of private commercial structures (and closing them for years during construction) is not supported by the Pier 40 Champions nor is it conducive to a park where communities meet. I understand the initial sentiment against residential, but what I don’t understand is why covering the courtyard with a parking garage surrounded by office and retail is considered to be a more appropriate use of this amazing 15 acre, one-of-a-kind resource in lower Manhattan. Is that what the community is clamoring for? The Pier 40 Champions are pushing for 60% of the pier to be redefined in the Act for “park use”, not to over-develop it. Currently the entire pier is designated as commercial space. We can’t “sink it”, as, per the Act, Pier 40 is expected to provide one third of the operating costs of the entire 5 mile HRPark. I agree that this is a failure of our local officials, but they are not doing anything and we need to act now. There is a growing constituency of families that need a place for our children to play organized sports. That is our priority, not “rich people”, nor “expensive toys.” The Act should be opened to unleash the creative minds that are out there and the best financially viable design that is properly vetted and meets the community’s needs should win.

        Call me naïve (but please, not a toe on the sock puppet of HRPT), but I respectfully disagree with your premise.

        • Actually we can sink it if we find was to minimize what has to be wrung out of
          Pier 40 cash wise. But building residential ON PARK LAND no matter how you slice it is alienation of public land. AND brings a whole host of other issues than just adding revenue so you can expand your amenities for you own backyard. How about over development of the area re: schools police, heath, traffic, let alone everything else associated with putting 700 additional FAMILIES into a ZONE A Flood Zone.
          Who pays for the evacuation costs, and resourses…eventually the taxpayer….so hows this how about you advocate for the NID and lessen the burden of revenue that needs to be extracted from the Pier 40 node and do you really need an elevated running track and all the bells and whistles of a glamorous office for Ms. Wils and her sock puppet TB?
          AND how about we get some amenities of the park above W29th Street…..

    • ** Not being able to adhere to the original intentions of the Trust (Act) is not a failure of imagination, it's a tangible failure of elected officials adjoining the park to bring home enough capital to complete the job of shoring up the pilings and concrete and make the Pier safe for maximum current revenue production. This, in advance of whatever “commercial node” revenue must then sustain it. There have been only utter lack of foresight and damaging decisions on this absolutely critical issue by BOTH the Trust and elected officials and they must BOTH be held accountable. Community leaders and sports parents have already created the sports and recreation ideal that Pier 40 must become and that clock cannot be turned back. The Trust and the elected officials ought to be made to feel shame due to ANY threat to loss of this massive space. The endless echo and stalemate of “the Trust wants housing / Glick opposes housing” is petty and tiresome, will it ever end? The Trust and the elected officials, Glick particularly, have proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they cannot work in sync to find the capital to overhaul the pilings completely and make the idiotic drumbeat of “will the Pier collapse” go away. At this point, after foolishly rejecting the Major League Soccer capital, it’s clear that no RFP can ever get off the ground without the Trust Act changed, and that the Trust Act can never be changed unless something, not luxury housing, and acceptable to Glick, has been pre-determined and agreed upon by all. It’s obviously not going to happen, and both current proposals continue to lack up-front infrastructure repair capital, so why wait? Here’s a solution, STILL staring us straight in the face: Douglas Durst and Pier 40 Champions, call me, why not have a meeting and explore this? Let’s raise money for repair, and park and smaller arena construction. A seriously revenue generating arena which can have not one but TWO pro soccer teams sharing it. One Men’s in the Tier 2 North American Soccer League, (instead of Tier 1 Major League Soccer) and one in the new National Women’s Soccer League, which desperately needs an NYC franchise. Abby Wambach visiting my neighborhood? Women’s sports? Why can’t Glick support that? I’m willing to bet that in New York City, two small publicly/community owned teams (in the public ownership economic model of the Green Bay Packers, who we can contact for guidance), with money raised locally and worldwide (Wall Street assistance or a special “premiere” agreement with Kickstarter, we can figure this one out), can raise $100,000,000. $1000 per share or certificate, (or larger amounts per shareholder but with caps, for fairness) from one hundred thousand soccer-loving public SHAREHOLDERS. Beginning with community members (then New Yorkers, then New York State, then the USA, then the world). A small, low-rise arena, say 15,000 seats, still leaving 60% to 65% of the Pier. And with only fifty dates needed, the public has the use of the arena the rest of the year, just like the plan was with MLS. Soccer is still the answer for this Pier, especially now that Major League Soccer and the US Soccer Federation are financially backing the Women’s League. This is possible, it has been done, this is the right place to do it. It would be only the second COMMUNITY OWNED major league sports franchise in the United States, and an historic women’s first. Maybe later the NASL franchise moves up into Major League Soccer, and the economic sustainability becomes even more assured. Let’s start thinking back inside the box we should have been working in a long time ago. Modest pro sports is, and always was, the proper solution for Pier 40. I would call them the Men’s and Women’s Immigrant Soccer/Football Club of New York. ISC/IFC New York. What savvy soccer fan would not pay $1000 to own part of a professional sports team in New York City, that also gets a park built for the public. This is something uniform, a single entity, easier to deal with in a crisis, which can be built to withstand storm-surge more than any other proposal now, or yet to be. Housing and/or multiple tech businesses would be disastrous economically in a storm, how complicated it would be to plan for multiple contingencies satisfying multiple high rent high profile entities. A pro team gets temporarily displaced to a local or regional field, IF there is a problem. And why even CONSIDER housing on the upland area where Pier 40 Champions currently proposes housing? Instead, put the small revenue producing soccer arena on the Pier, and use the upland area, (since it seems like its now in play), for more park/field space. Increase the park/field in a different manner, instead of residential, and use Pier space for the commercial partner. How about a three level tennis/basketball/bocce/cafe setup upland, further opening up the Pier space for the sports that need BIG field space, soccer and baseball, and MORE GREENSPACE. With a bridge to the main Pier? We can build passion for such a project, and build it in a manner acceptable to community, with PUBLIC ownership.

      • All those piling do not need repair now and there are solutions to that issue…what is still missing is the question of revenue for the park op and maintenance AND Capital to finish the park.
        There are ideas that does not require moving 700 families into Zone A that will secure resources but Tobi Bergman wants more and bigger while the rest of the parks constituents are left wondering where is the park north of 29th Street in Dick Gottfried's district.
        But I do wish more of the community had a chance to see the MLS proposal which was quite spectacular.

  2. It is so sad to see a community that was once that the forefront of counterculture straining to build more expensive amenities for richer and richer residents. This is such ugly bourgeoisie bickering. How about less park? Less landscaping. Less architecture and architects. Less studies and surveys. Less expensive maintenance. Less exotic plants when local gardening groups would love to grow here without charge. Less expensive rebuilding when the next hurricane comes along and less insurance required until then.

    This will always be a great park, because it’s on a great river. Grass along water. What more do you need? A NID will only drive up rents, both sooner and later, so that the park is more and more only accessible to rich Villagers who need more and more expensive toys. Why not build a park we can afford? What happened to tapping the local spirit and manpower our community wildlife and garden groups? They’ve transformed vacant lots for pennies and could do the same here. This is surely not the Village I grew up in. What a shame!

    • All good and salient points, but sadly the ideas you and many of us share went away when the HRPT was created, and there is no turning back. It was the job of our legislators to say no and they failed. Glick opposed but failed to move the needle, and now has refused to adapt as we all must, or to provide completion financing. If you oppose housing, as I do, consider my soccer/sports themed proposal above. If there must be development, it MUST be consistent with current and prevailing park use, and we the people should own it and build it on the 50% or less we are currently allowed, why even let developers have a crack at it? It is clear both the Trust and elected officials along the park do not have the will to find the money or a creative compromise, so we must do it ourselves.

  3. Once again the editorializing by Mr. Anderson exhibits either his shallow skills of writing as a journalist or clearly reflects his bias.
    Mr. Durst did not "bail" on the Friends and he knows it.
    yet he characterizes it as such without it being a quote or information.
    This is not the first time either.
    As for the "kumbaya" of Ms. Wils…why wouldn't she be?
    Ms. Wils and Diana Taylor have wanted to take over Friends since they entered the partnership.
    And now with their hand picked Chair of Friends coming directly from the TRUST Board and no replacement for the senior staff at Friends it remains to be seen who the organization will be working for.

    Curious the the New Chair Mr. Novogratz had a laugh about the St Johns Building.
    He sat on the Trust board so he had to heard the "real estate talks"and lets face it, he will profit incredibly with what happens either to St Johns or Pier 40.
    So i guess although this sale which had been in the works for months prior and then reported in The Daily News no one knew about it until AFTER his selection.
    He as chair says that the NID is very important but as his hedge fund has controlling influence it strange that as of this moment the St Johns Building has not signed on to this important component.
    Has he set up any meetings since to get this done? Surely he has influence or will he too get his marching orders from the Mayor's Girlfriend who still clings to her position as Chair of the Trust.

    And one must note that the PR team hired to "message" Ms. Wils and the Trust now wants even more fields (to be controlled by Mr. Bergman-who doesn't have a horse in this race as he sits on Community Boards even) while there is still minimal park north of 29th Street.
    I just wish Mr. Anderson refrained from his poor choice of words in his "reporting" (numerous examples to anyone who reads his articles or editorials on this subject) or showcasing one plan as a photo in above article.
    The Joke is anyone who believes Ms. Wils when she says the she or the "trust" doesnt only favor Luxury Housing on Hudson River Park but it's the only one they are spending Trust resources to implement. So when she says now the Trust and Friends are on "the same page" on Pier 40, one only wishes that Lincoln Anderson would have asked what that means?
    Or who first approached Mr. Novogratz to be Chair?
    When did that happen?
    It remains to be seen whether Friends can continue to be" two separate and distinct organizations".
    Independence needs to be demonstrated.

  4. Lincoln Anderson

    HKres, as usual, you make a lot of good points and valid arguments. I would like your posts better, though, if they didn't contain personal attacks on me each time! To the best of my abilities (albeit under the constraints of deadline pressure and other pressures of putting out a weekly paper — i.e., a lot of work) I am trying to just present facts as I understand them. And, yes, believe it or not, I am trying to present a fair and balanced report. Yet, you constantly accuse me of having some sort of bias or agenda, and it's simply not the case. Nothing I can say will convince you otherwise, apparently. I guess, I would say, since you yourself seem to be quite knowledgable on all the in and outs of the Pier 40 issue and the Hudson River Park as a whole — you are always free to write an opinion piece and submit it for consideration for publication to us. However, it would have to include your name.

    • REALLY!? and yet Mr. Anderson, The Villager publishes unnamed news items weekly in the Scoopys column.
      Lets address this with The Editor.

  5. Lincoln Anderson

    P.S., I think we ran an image from the Durst plan for Pier 40 just a couple of weeks ago. Subsequent to that time, Pier 40 Champions released its revised plan — which is the reason why we ran an image from the Champions plan, as opposed to Durst plan in this week's issue. Again, there was no agenda — it just a case of keeping up with and following an ongoing story.

    • I'm tough but fair (to you). I did enjoy your reporting on the God's Love Deliver story.
      And I supported you early on when you refused to accept the lock-down approach that Ms. Wils used with the Toby Bergman study but unfortunately I don't see the same critical eye since and I wish you asked probing follow up questions.
      This was a confused article. Was it a PARADE Magazine feature on the new Hedge fund Chair or a set up of the up coming forum.

  6. Lincoln Anderson

    HKres, I feel I did ask some probing questions — such as on Fortress's purchase of controlling share of St. John's Center, does the Trust support residential, etc., etc.

    M. Wils and Mr. Novogratz invited The Villager for a sit-down on the Trust and Friends and park — their views on the park are always newsworthy, obviously, so certainly reporting on them makes sense. On top of that, a news hook is that the Pier 40 forum is coming up. I then asked local pols for their views on residential. Was this article a masterpiece or the final word on Pier 40 and the waterfront? Obviously not. But hopefully it contained some useful information as a lead-up to the forum.

    Did you teach in journalism school in the past? You are one tough critic.

    • I am a fan of Journalism and the Free Press and am concerned with the corporate buy up for the news industry.
      And I was actually going through the archive here through the years and continue to be impressed on the history of this paper. I do fear that perhaps since the Villager's buy out last year the jury is still out.
      For instance: If Friends and the Trust are now on script what script is it? Who paying to write it?
      Who benefits? Ms. Wils talks about "the legislation" what are the details?
      On the Pier 40 Champions "new" plan…who gave it to you?
      Mr. Durst's was presented in a public arena…(Mr. Bergman declined to make his at that time cause he was traveling just before) so did Sandy change anything in the plan? That would help us as we move toward a discussion.
      You didn't report on that just a sweet looking picture that doesn;t show the 700 Luxury housing.
      Also the Daily News Article mentioned that the St. John Building was being looked to as high tech office space. Now that Mr. Novogratz hedge fund will stand to reap untold profits seems like Mr. Durst's option may no longer viable. Isn't that a possible conflict? And why allow someone off the hook just because he says…hey I didn't know I owned that? Must be the guys down the hall. I assure you as President and Director of Fortress he stands to gain.
      And since the Trust Board has an opening now…will they attempt to be diverse as well? Ms. Taylor has served more than what had been a two year stint as rotating chair. Has she now created herself a lucrative and influential post Trust place for herself and Brookfield Properties a Board she also represents.

  7. Lincoln Anderson

    Again, you raise good points. Tobi sent his plan out to the media, that's all I know. Does Novogratz's Fortress buying 51 percent of St. John's mean there will be offices there that will block the Durst office plan? I don't know, but that's an interesting question. As for what the Trust will be asking for legislation-wise — I think it would be the same things that it asked for last year, which we've already reported, and which can be found in our archives. In other words, I didn't sense a huge change in what the Trust would be asking for. And yes, clearly, residential is in that mix.

    • Actually Novogratz Hedge Fund along with two other investors already owned 49.9 percent of St. John Center (for all those Trust Board meetings at Pier 40 he would have known that at least) but it was reported in The NY Post Jan. 3, 2013 they then bought out the rest of the 50.1%.
      It was stated in that same article:
      "Because of the building's high ceilings and awe-inspiring views of the Hudson River, creative and tech companies will be targeted as potential tenants by the marketing team."
      Then again The Real Deal posted (2-1-13) a headline :" Brokers say the recent purchase of St. John's Center could inject badly needed office space into the market." "St. John's Center should have no trouble attracting tenants". It goes on and worth the read. So it does not appear to be an interesting question. It appears thats the plan.
      The Post also writes: "There are also 290,000 square feet of air rights, which could be used for the development of an as-of-right hotel or more modern offices or for residential apartments with a change of zoning."
      Sounds exactly what Mr. Durst had been saying for some time what might work on Pier 40. Unfortunately that was NOT what Ms. Wils and The Trust had in mind.
      So there's a business deal that Mr. Novogratz could stand to reap serious profit from leasing high tech office space directly across from Pier 40 where of the two plans mentioned in this article-one proposes leasing High Tech Office.
      So lets say as President and Director of Fortress Mr. Novogratz has no say in the development of St. Johns Center-though he stands to make serious money nonetheless. He now walks “side by side” on the same page with Ms. Wils on developing Pier 40. Whatever THAT means.
      Mr. Novogratz was then elected mid Jan first to the Board of Friends and then directly to chair.
      You could have asked him if, while a Trust Board member, he supported the partnership of the Trust and Friends; or if he like Trust Chair Diana Taylor who wanted to create her own "conservancy" that the Trust could more easily control? Is the New "Kumbaya" Partnership more like what Ms. Taylor envisioned?
      Lincoln, I looked back on your recent coverage in the archives here and noticed a pattern.
      “It’s MUTINY on the waterfront as Durst pitches plan”
      “DITCHING Friends…”
      Those were your headlines…and of course today's: Durst BAILING from Friends.
      No wonder they asked you for a sit down.

  8. Lincoln Anderson

    HKres, again, lots of interesting info. Again, you sort of spin the things that I write. A "mutiny" can be could or bad — if it's warranted or gains a positive or better result, maybe it's warranted. Similarly, if you "ditch" something, maybe it's for the good in the long run. You're attaching negative connotations to words that are being used in our articles as turns of phrases, figures of speech — a catchy headline, etc. I think you are reading too much into it.

    • re: mutiny hmmm then why was Ms. Wils and Mr. Durst compelled to write to your organization to say there was no mutiny?
      So as a "journalist" to meant to be obtuse? or you wanted to insert your self into the news?
      Cause the definition is "Forcible or passive resistance to lawful authority; especially concerted revolt against discipline or a superior officer" (Merriam-webster)
      Now about those questions….cause you're right..it seems your new publisher might be the one who wants you to go for those inflammatory words since she more used to the Murdoch meme.

      • Lincoln Anderson

        OK, I can't answer for other people and why they choose to write letters the way they write them. Durst did break with the Trust — so that, ultimately, was NOT a kumbaya situation. If you dont want to call it a mutiny, that's fine. No, there is no Murdoch influence on our headlines! There is no Murdoch ownership of the company. Again, you are looking for things that simply are not there.

        • No Mr. Anderson I did not say Murdoch owned the company you work for. (see directly above)…She might be more used to the Murdoch meme don't you think? Considering the relationship.
          Damn that News Corp!

  9. "I'm sure bankers in NYC will want to handle this one" — Really, is that what the community wants? To have bankers with no local stake in this area's parks to be the owners of Pier 40? Big money and Big developers? Do the folks who live around here really want soccer holligans streaming into the area with no appreciation of the fact that people (w/ children) live nearby? Why would we want to build a big stadium that is no use to us? This park and this pier should be designed for local uses to be used by local people. If we don't build all this big development then we will not need a NID and big bugets to support it. What's the old KISS acronum — Keep It Simple, … .

    • Read the version I have just posted on my blog. You've completely misread and grossly misinterpreted what I've written, (and advocated before), and the soccer hooligans issue is both incorrect and unbelievably tired. A myth to scare people, and you are alarmist and unfair to wield it. I'm willing to bet your neighbors go to professional sports events regularly in New York City with no issues, so don't bring up the old standby. I CLEARLY advocate for a PUBLICLY owned small arena. I CLEARLY advocate for public use for the majority of the year. To satisfy the current state of stalemate between Glick and the HRPT, which is not going away. The idea is, if you give it an honest reading, and you obviously haven't, is to keep sports the central theme of the Pier, if there MUST be a commercial enterprise there, and to have the majority of space be park. Unless you have the clout to make the Trust Act as it exists go away, and to dissolve the HRPT, I await your solution. I have addressed a solution which you have grossly misrepresented, one of the many reasons there is stalemate on this Pier, from both directions.

      • "…keep sports the central theme of the Pier…" – sports have been part of Pier 40 for only a short time. Not a "central theme". Gotta be less than a decade. I've been using that area twice as long, but now I've got to listen to others tell me what it should be used for as if it were built for that purpose. Sports on the pier is a relatively new thing, so please, don't make it sound like that's what the pier was built for. Why do new comers get to tell the rest of us what's what? That's unfair.

        • Is that what this is about for you, new-comer vs old timer? I'm here longer than you, my dad is better than your dad? Maybe you want the Pier to go back to becoming a working shipping pier, like it was built for? Maybe some cruise ships…would that make you happy? Sports and recreation is what it has become, and that ship is not turning around. What, I ask, is unfair about giving kids and adults a place to have athletic activity and exercise in a neighborhood with little? One of the chief problems here is that you, like many along this park, seem to place yourself individually in a place of decision-making prominence based on your perceived longevity in relation to others. That's ego. What the pier has become is about a neighborhood in need of sports and green-space, not about the perceived slight against a bunch of self pitying people who seem to see healthy happy children as a threat to their personal and narrow idea of what Greenwich Village should be. Wow. Villagers arguing against open space, and that sports fields for kids are "unfair". Never thought I'd see the day. As I say to everyone, I await your idea, and the economic solution behind your idea.

  10. Whatever happened to our government, through our taxes, funding parks? Are parks not important enough? This park cannot finish building itself without the money promised by the governor and mayor. Where are those funds now, at least for the final build-out? The long-term maintenance costs ar another matter.

    • Amen. And if they can't bring this money home we HAVE to find an actual "fundraising for a publicly owned commercial project" type solution. See soccer above. Force the Community Board to look at it seriously as a possibility, and I will live and breathe it until it is done.

      • No, we don't "HAVE" to. That's just not true. I'd much rather it stay a parking garage. Less park would save money and keep future overhead down. Otherwise, we'll have to keep doing this again and again. Fundraising will never stop if we overbuild the pier.

        • Less park? Seriously? Try and sell that to your neighbors and the sports parents. This is why something needs to get done here already. So that every time a new wave of "what's going to happen at Pier 40?" begins, the latest batch of people who haven't read and don't understand the Trust Act or how the HRPT is organized don't have to be hand held and explained to yet again. It's time for one last, big, serious, ONE TIME ONLY forum to explain to the community the history of the HRPT, how the Trust Act works, when and how it happened, and what the limitations are. Make people read the Act before they go off about ideals for Pier 40 which are no where grounded in current law. It's getting silly. Again.

    • Couldn't agree more!
      Why wasn't Ms. Wils asked what she is doing to secure the funds to finish the park?
      And MR. Novogratz and Mr. Lawins are crowing about raising 200,00 "for the park" what they are not saying is
      that this chunk of money is ONLY for their piece of the park. More of the "Just IN MY Back Yard" fundraising that Ms. Wils is encouraging-the we take care of our own…MORE Fields more dog walk more park….BUT ONLY West 28th STREET!
      Even Mr. Novogratz crude comment regarding all the creative, talented people that seem to live ONLY between Tribeca and Chelsea…does he even realize that the park extends further North?
      How much money has Ms. Wils and he well connected members of the Trust been able to secure from the State or City for capital construction Mr. Anderson?

  11. MR. Lincoln….Funny thing…Re: the Upcoming forum..you know "the news hook" for this story?
    My sources say that Neither Mr. Durst's organization, The Trust, or Friends were contacted or informed of this forum taking place some understandably already have conflicts for that date.
    Perhaps you can find out if Mr. Bergman or the Champions made the cut.
    (Oh right Tobi Bergman sits on Community Board 2)

  12. With the effects of climate change escalating I'm not sure what is viable or to the point on the Hudson River. Should we be considering recreating marshlands to help absorb rising sea levels? What might help mitigate or, better still, begin to build in resource to alleviate global climate disruption along our shoreline? Where is the hub from which this community is going to tackle the worsening affects of more extreme weather?
    We really are in the midst of a crisis here – even if the weather is "nice" today.
    Parks, schools- all public infrastructure necessities- should be funded by taxes paid- paid especially by those who benefit disproportionally by our current financial system. Not by the public begging wealthy donors to pony up. Organizing in that way skews the results no matter the good (or bad) the intentions of those donors. Relying on the same paradigms that brought us the financial meltdown to solve public matters is counter-intuitive- at best.

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