Volume 80, Number 45 | April 7 - 13, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Photos by Albert Amateau.

The UPS lot at Washington and Spring Sts. has been cleared of UPS trucks. A lone construction vehicle was parked there this week, awaiting the start of work.

City is certain mega-garage work will start soon

By Albert Amateau

The UPS Spring St. property, cleared of cars and trucks last month, is waiting for the resolution of a dispute over an 11-foot, 1-inch strip of land before the beginning of construction for the Department of Sanitation’s three-district garage between Washington and West Sts. from Spring to Charlton Sts.

“The Department of Sanitation anticipates that construction of the garage will commence within the month and that it will be completed in mid-2014,” a department spokesperson said on April 1.

The project, however, will cost the city at least $781,200 per year ($195,300 per quarter) for each of the next three years, for a total of $2,343,600 over and above the project’s estimated $500 million cost, which includes construction and the purchase of air rights.

The bite is not quite as painful as it looks because the money will go to the Hudson River Park Trust, the state/city authority charged with building and maintaining the 5-mile-long riverfront park between Chambers and 59th Sts. According to an agreement signed last September by UPS, the Department of Sanitation and the Trust, the city will pay the money to the Trust, which will allow 210 UPS cars to park on the nearby rooftop parking facility of Pier 40, at West Houston St., during the garage’s construction. The Trust controls Pier 40 and uses fees from the pier’s parking concession to maintain the riverfront park.

UPS uses its three-square-block property for parking cars and marshaling its delivery trucks that work out of the UPS garage between Washington and Greenwich Sts. Sanitation has agreed to pay UPS $116,070,360 for the right to build the 120-foot-tall garage, which will include Sanitation trucks and equipment that now use the Gansevoort Peninsula, on the Hudson River to the west of the Meatpacking District. When the garage is completed, the 8-acre peninsula is slated to become part of the Hudson River Park. Also after completion, the UPS cars will leave Pier 40 and return to the new garage’s ground-floor level.

For Hudson Square and Tribeca neighbors, the three-district garage is ill-advised and a burden on the neighborhood.

“It’s a waste of taxpayer money,” said Marc Ameruso, a Tribeca resident and Community Board 1 member. Ameruso was especially concerned about plans to eliminate four mature trees on the east and west sides of the UPS site.

“It’s amazing what the city had to go through to get use of the UPS site,” said Michael Kramer, a consultant to the St. John’s Center, a former industrial building whose property abuts the site’s north end.

Kramer noted that the Pier 40 three-year parking agreement allows two one-year extensions, if needed, at an increased rate of $202,229 per quarter. Moreover, the parking agreement makes it very difficult for the Hudson River Park to remove the UPS parking in the unlikely event that the city defaults on the parking fees.

The agreement states that the Trust acknowledges that its inability to terminate UPS parking in case of a city default “was a bargained-for and material inducement and condition to UPS’s entering into the City-UPS agreement… .”

Neighbors, including the St. John’s Center, have gone to court to block the project. Their lawsuit was dismissed last year, but an appellate court panel heard an appeal on March 24 and a decision is pending.

However, St. John’s Center went to court again over the 11-foot, 1-inch strip at the UPS-St. John’s border. Although the overgrown strip belongs to UPS, St. John’s Center has been maintaining it at least since 1976 and claims ownership under the legal doctrine of adverse possession. The issue is pending after a March 28 court hearing, but the city has begun a condemnation procedure to acquire the strip under eminent domain.

At the same time, St. John’s Center filed a challenge to the project at the Department of Buildings, claiming that plans for the Sanitation garage are 5 feet longer on the West St. side than authorized by the City Planning Commission two years ago. That issue is also pending.

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