NEWS AND ISSUES
Testimony By NYS Senator Thomas K. Duane and Assemblymember Richard N. Gottfried before the Hudson River Park Trust on the Draft Scope of Analysis for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement Regarding the Pier 57 Redevelopment Proposal
Thursday, July 14, 2011
As elected officials who represent the site of the proposed redevelopment project at Pier 57, we thank the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) for the opportunity to present our comments on the Draft Scope of Analysis for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).
The current proposal by Young Woo and Associates will transform Pier 57, located in the Hudson River Park at West 15th Street, from an historic nautical pier into an innovative cultural and commercial destination. Young Woo proposes to restore the exterior of the pier's existing structure; preserve its historic ramp entrance; create new, interior market stalls using shipping containers; and add 114,800 square feet of public open space. The developer has already secured two primary tenants: Urban Space Management will manage the interior market space and Tribeca Film Festival will lease the pier's roof for movie screenings and associated events. The developer is in negotiations to make the pier home to a culinary school and a variety of restaurants as well.
As long-term supporters of Hudson River Park generally and the redevelopment at Pier 57 specifically, we are pleased that the proposal is progressing and we look forward to the project's completion. As you know, our offices have been and continue to be involved in this redevelopment as members of the Pier 57 Community Advisory Working Group, which in July 2009 selected Young Woo as its preferred developer.
The scoping document on which we are commenting is generally quite thorough in itemizing those impacts needing analysis and the methodology by which the study will be completed. However, there are elements of the plan that we hope will receive special scrutiny. In particular, the project's traffic impacts must be meticulously and comprehensively studied. As we have seen in other places in this city, even small changes to traffic patterns can have a huge impact on a neighborhood, and this exciting redevelopment promises to be a major attraction for New York City residents and visitors alike, many of whom will arrive by automobile. We are concerned about the effect this will have on the adjacent narrow residential side streets and local residents, including those at the nearby Robert Fulton Houses. We thus cannot stress enough the importance of fully analyzing the traffic impacts of this development on the local community.
Other issues related to traffic that must also be examined include parking and pedestrian safety. It is true that in its resolution in support of the Young Woo proposal, the Hudson River Park Trust Advisory Council, which includes our offices, stated that it was "the only proposal which does not attract cars and is the best designed to eliminate traffic in the surrounding neighborhood." Yet the Tribeca Film Festival uses would seem to necessitate an increase in the current plan's proposed 150 spaces of accessory parking. As stated in the scoping document, that number is not expected to be sufficient to meet the demand the project will create. The surrounding side streets, several of which have "No Standing" restrictions, will not be able to accommodate a huge influx of cars in need of parking spaces and hence this issue must be thoroughly evaluated. Pedestrian access must also be carefully examined, as the entrance to the pier is located beside a heavily-trafficked highway and crosses one of the most popular biking and pedestrian paths in the city. We know that the developers are weighing a number of options with regard to pedestrian safety, and it is certainly an issue that deserves extensive study.
Despite the concerns addressed above, we once again offer our support for the Pier 57 Redevelopment Project as laid out in the Draft Scope of Analysis for the DEIS. We are especially pleased by the proposed creation of additional open space, which is greatly needed in Chelsea, the critical restoration of an historic landmark, and the activation of a long under-utilized part of our waterfront.
Thank you for allowing us this opportunity to comment on the Draft Scope. We appreciate HRPT's consideration of our comments as the Pier 57 redevelopment proposal moves towards fruition.