Volume 73, Number 3 | May 19 - 25, 2004

Trust trims proposals for Pier 57 down to 4

By Albert Amateau

The Chelsea Piers proposal for Pier 57 would offer art galleries, a dance center, a 25-meter indoor pool and a nine-court tennis center.

The Hudson River Park Trust expects to select a development team this summer to transform Pier 57, the former city bus depot on the Hudson River, into a cultural destination, according to Noreen Doyle, executive vice president of the state and city agency building the 5-mile-long riverfront park.

The Trust began its two-step selection process last September when it issued a request for expressions of interest for the pier on the Chelsea waterfront and received responses from eight development teams early this year. None of the teams expressing interest has been eliminated, but the Trust last month invited four of them to outline their plans at an April 21 public meeting.

The Trust’s broad development goals for the 300,000-sq.-ft pier off W. 17th St. are for a combination of “quality park-enhancing” cultural, educational and maritime recreation uses, commercial and noncommercial, according to the R.F.E.I. issued in September.

“We’re drafting a request for proposals which we’ll share with the Advisory Council before we issue it later this month,” Doyle said on Monday. The Hudson River Park Advisory Council is made up of elected officials, members of Community Boards 1, 2 and 4, whose districts include the park, park advocates and members of the Trust’s board.

All four teams that made presentations last month proposed to have historic ships, marinas, maritime and environmental programs, art galleries and public space. Two have significant performing arts programs and three have swimming pools.

One of the four teams, Original Ventures, is a consortium including Hudson Guild — the Chelsea neighborhood settlement house — which proposes to establish the Hudson River Performing Arts Center, with space for music, dance and theater events. Also part of the Original Ventures plan, the National Maritime Historical Society would have a Sea History Maritime Center with revolving exhibits. In addition, Riverkeeper, the nonprofit group headed by Robert Kennedy Jr., would establish its headquarters on the pier with an environmental education and outreach center in the pier head house.

The Cipriani group’s Leonardo at Pier 57 plan includes an Italian retail, crafts and cultural center, a ballroom that would double as a restaurant and event space and a resort-style rooftop pool.

The Performing Arts Center would include a two-level auditorium with seating for 2,500 guests and flexible enough to accommodate 5,000 standing. Hudson Guild would develop an incubator arts complex for local nonprofit arts groups and set up an employment center for Chelsea youth in connection with commercial tenants on the pier. Music, theater and television production studios are also part of the Original Ventures project, along with a swimming pool, a marina and berths for visiting historic vessels. Michael Kramer, a Chelsea resident and former member of Community Board 4, is a principal. The design and construction members of the team include HRH Construction, KeySpan and the architectural firms of Richard Dattner, Dan Ionescu and Buckhurst, Fish & Jaquemart.

Discover 57, a team that includes LCOR Development Services, Bovis Lend Lease project managers, Meta Brunzema Architects, JM Zell Partners Museum Services and DMCD, Inc., a museum design firm, are associated with John Doswell, a member of Community Board 4 and a founder of Friends of Hudson River Park, in another proposal that was shown last month at the public hearing. Brunzema is also a member of Community Board 4.

Discover 57 would devote the pier to maritime, educational and recreation uses, public space and compatible commercial uses. The Jacques Cousteau Society would establish a visitor center and museum, with Cousteau’s historic vessel Calypso and the research vessel Alcyone as part of the permanent exhibit.

Also part of the Discover 57 plan, retail shops, art galleries and a 35,000-sq.-ft. event center would be located on the first level, with a smaller event center and a restaurant sharing the roof with public space. A public esplanade would encircle the outside of the first level and the old Grace Line waiting room would be restored and opened to the public. Discover 57 would also have docking space for dinner and excursion boats, a diving shop and teaching center, a marine supplies shop and space for U.S. Coast Guard boats and a Coast Guard classroom.

Finally, the lower level in the Discover 57 plan would include artists’ studios, gallery space and a hall for visiting exhibits. There would also be museums on the Hudson River and the maritime industry as well as and a National Geographic retail shop.

Chelsea Piers, which has been running the sports and entertainment complex on Piers 59, 60, 61 and 62 on the Chelsea waterfront for more than 10 years, also presented its plan for Pier 57 at the April meeting.

The Chelsea Piers plan calls for a row of art galleries, studios and space for on-site art handling. About 40,000 sq. ft. would be devoted to a dance center for high-profile established dance organizations and smaller dance companies. The center would serve for training, rehearsals and headquarters for between eight and 12 companies in collaboration with Dance/ NYC, the local branch of Dance/USA, the national service organization for professional dance.

Included in Chelsea Piers proposal, a River Arts Center would offer year-round classes in the plastic and visual arts for both children and adults. A 30,000-sq.-ft. aquatics center would have a 25-meter indoor pool with a diving pool. The aquatics center would have special programs for teens, seniors and the handicapped. A 100,000-sq.-ft. tennis center with nine indoor courts, two squash courts and locker rooms would be included in the plan. Chelsea Piers’ plan also includes a co-generation plant on site that would make the pier energy self-sufficient.

David Tewksbury, vice president of Chelsea Piers, who made the presentation on April 21, said the John J. Harvey, a decommissioned fire ship, and Pegasus, a 1907 tug, would be among the historic ships that would be berthed at Pier 57. A maritime center would accommodate small boats in the Chelsea Piers plan.

Leonardo at Pier 57 is the plan of the Cipriani restaurant group with Plaza Construction Corp. and The Witkoff Group for an Italian crafts, retail and cultural center.

The design calls for a two-story pedestrian street lined with Italian shops and crafts. High-end Italian companies are said to be ready to become part of the project and La Triennale di Milano, a museum and gallery, would establish a cultural center on the pier. Casa Sicilia, a Sicilian bureau promoting the art and products of Sicily, would be among the features. Milanostudio a fashion and photo studio in Milan, would also join the project with studios and classrooms.

Under the Leonardo plan, the Cipriani group plans to operate a restaurant and event space, and MarineMax, a division of Ferretti, would operate a marina and nautical store on the pier. A resort-style outdoor pool is planned for the roof of the pier. The Cipriani plan also calls for parking to address the traffic and transportation needs of the project.

The second-floor Cipriani ballroom would be available for important community events and the walkway around the perimeter of the pier would be restored with benches and lighting consistent with Hudson River Park design standards.

Other teams that submitted expressions of interest but have not been invited to make their plans public are:

Pier 57 Development Corp., a consortium of RW Consultants and MJ Properties, which would create tradeshows, an auction house, catering, ballroom and event space, restaurants and retail, a maritime museum and marina, a greenhouse and a co-generation energy facility.

Pier 57 Maritime — a team of R2 Electric and Pier 63 Maritime — which proposes open space and public recreation, charter boats and accessory parking, historic vessels, artists’ studios, offices for nonprofit groups, food and beverage cafes and snack bars, catering and events, kayak and canoe storage, boat building and a small boat marina. John Krevey, the principal in the team, currently operates Pier 63 Maritime

Another group that did not make the cut of four, U.S. Four, Inc., would organize Pier 57 Development Corp. to create a restaurant and cabaret, catering and event space, a theater, artists’ studios, commercial gallery, performance arts education, television soundstages and a public outdoor gallery on Pier 57.

Also, a team that calls itself The Hub submitted an expression of interest after the deadline but was accepted. However, Doyle said The Hub submission, which included a parking garage with an unspecified number of spaces, along with an educational and scientific center, did not meet any of the Trust’s selection criteria. She also noted that the stand-alone parking use is illegal under the Hudson River Park Act.


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