Crain's: Third attempt looms to develop Pier 40

Thomas K. Duane

June 04, 2009

By Theresa Agovino

Last year, Related Cos. sought a 49-year lease and opted not to pursue developing the site when it became clear that the change wasn’t forthcoming.

However, many community advocates objected to the size and scope of Related’s proposal which included a home for Cirque du Soleil and the Tribeca Film Festival. Some state legislators' aides said there's a fear that changing the law would encourage large developments that they deem inappropriate for the park.

However, last year the Trust decided that although the remaining proposal for Pier 40 was smaller– it involved a camp and marina – it just wasn’t viable. State Senator Tom Duane's spokesman said that while the legislator objected to Related's proposal, he didn't necessarily reject the idea of a longer lease. "We want to make sure the community is adequately consulted on any decision," he said.

Ms. Fishman said conversations were just beginning with state legislators’ staff, City Council members and community groups about the Trust’s desire for change. She added she wasn’t sure if the issue would be addressed before the state legislative session ends later this month.

Meanwhile, a developer for Pier 57, which is also overseen by the Trust, could be named by July. Ms. Fishman says the Trust’s management and board had been meeting with the three teams vying to redevelop the 375,000-square-foot building that occupies the entire Pier, which juts out from West 15th Street. Ms. Fishman said she hopes to have a recommendation ready for a vote by the full board by its next meeting on July 30.

In 2005, the state legislature voted to allow the lease on Pier 57 to be extended to 49 years from 30. However, the Pier is listed on the registry of Historic Places and developers who refurbish such structures are entitled to federal tax cuts. Ms. Fishman notes that the lease was extended to comply with the federal tax-cut schedule.

The three contenders are The Related Cos., Youngwoo Associates, and a joint venture between The Durst Organization and C&K Properties. Each submitted plans that include cultural, retail and nautical elements.