The Future of Governors Island and Pier 55

Governors Island

The Trust for Governors Island, a nonprofit development company, is in charge of one of the biggest projects New York City’s ever seen: the revival of Governor’s Island. Following a trail of crumbs regarding the project, proposals for the project include a massive new park named The Hills, scheduled for completion this year. The purpose of The Hills will be to provide new vantage points of the city’s most popular features. Another new feature on the island this summer will be the winning project of the City of Dreams Pavilion competition, the “Hanger Barn,” which is a pavilion made entirely out of coat hangers. Additionally, 900,000 sqft of existing space in protected historic buildings will be reanimated with educational STEM programs, along with the construction of waterfront promenades.

The island near the Financial District is currently a summer hotspot open to the public only between May and October. Plans extend to all-year-round public access to increase commercial tenancy are set to begin construction in 2019. Mayor De Blasio has announced his plans to transform the 172-acres to “a mixed use innovation cluster.” The city has already invested about $300 million on improvements for the island, and doesn’t plan to stop any time soon. “We pledge to make Governors Island a place where economic opportunity comes together with innovation, education and creativity,” De Blasio said in front of an audience at Lehman College in the Bronx.

For centuries, the area has been a military base and is now home to a public high school for 430 students, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Arts Center, hosting popular public events such as the annual Jazz Age Lawn Party. The goal of attracting new long-term commercial tenants shouldn’t be a struggle for the developers, since new developments and the creation of thousands of jobs will bring investors flocking to the site.

Pier 55

Another project in the works, Pier 55, will replace the dilapidated Pier 54 near the West Village. Renderings of a 2.4-acre floating park were revealed summer 2015, which include a 13th Street crosswalk leading to the park. The Hudson River Park Trust worked on the project secretly for two years, and people weren’t too happy about the lack of transparency.

The park will offer “sweeping views of the Manhattan and northern New Jersey skylines for all park-goers,” as well as performance and theatre spaces, venues for community events, and lounging areas. Funded by billionaire Barry Diller, the park has not only been accused of lack of transparency, but also for its potential noisiness and being developed only for the rich. For this reason, the City Club of New York has filed a lawsuit, a group especially concerned about the environmental impacts of the park. Construction is set to begin this year, if lawsuits are settled. 

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