Over the past decade, the Hudson River Park has become an athletic center for the West Village, attracting joggers and residents to use the park’s public sports facilities.
The park now has nearly $100 million in damage due to Superstorm Sandy — damage many are unsure the park has the funds to repair.
Madelyn Wils, president and CEO of the Hudson River Park Trust, noted that electricity was still down in many parts of the park.
“[There are] visible issues [that] cost dollars that the park doesn’t have,” Wils said.
In June of 1998, the New York State legislature passed the Hudson River Park Act, establishing the Hudson River Park Trust as an organization to would plan and manage the park. Now the trust is pushing legislators to amend the act to allow residential developments to be constructed alongside the park in the hope that the scenic river will attract luxury housing developments that could pay for the park’s repairs.
“The Hudson River Park Trust’s job is to be a steward on behalf of the park,” Wils said. “It is with that rather elementary notion in mind that w e have been working alongside our elected officials to amend the act.”
However, the bill faces opposition from Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, who represents the Lower Manhattan district that encompasses the park.
Glick’s chief of staff, Matt Borden, explained her position.
“Residential development doesn’t belong in parks,” Borden said. “New York City has very few open spaces like the Hudson River Park and the thing with an open space is that once you lose it, you never get it back. No one would suggest building residential developments in Central Park, [and] there’s no reason they should be built here.”
Manhattan commercial developer and former chairman of Friends of Hudson River Park Douglas Durst has proposed an alternative to the Hudson River Park Trust’s plan that would involve only expanding commercial development around the park.
“Housing in that location, by the park, is [extraordinarily] challenging,” said Jordan Barowitz, the director of external affairs for the Durst Organization. “Buildings of that size that close to the water are nearly unprecedented among New York City waterfront developments.”
But the Hudson River Park Trust recently released a study that said the park would make 25 percent less with the Durst plan than it would with the residential plan.
“We’ve already been approached by potential users for the space,” Barowitz said in response to the trust’s study. “[Nearby] Hudson Square is booming. Rents are getting significantly higher. We believe the rent that we are going [to set] for this site will make it entirely doable.”
Borden said the assemblywoman supports the concept of Durst’s but is still waiting on more details before commenting.
Ivy McCall, a GLS sophomore who enjoys jogging to the park on a regular basis, was conflicted by the prospect of housing developments in the Hudson Square Park area.
“I don’t know about having large condos looming over the park,” she said. “But I also don’t want to lose the park.”
A version of this article appeared in the March 5 print edition. Andrew Karpan is a deputy city/state editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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