New York’s next big concert venue isn’t in a park or on a rooftop – or on land for that matter.
Construction of this new performance venue and park is set to begin soon on Pier 55, located in the Hudson River where the historic Pier 54 once stood, and will be accessible by West 13th and West 14th Streets.
The 2.7-acre park will be positioned 62 feet above the Hudson River. To date, it has received funding by the Hudson River Park Trust, businessman Barry Diller and fashion designer Diane von Furstenburg. The couple has pledged $113 million of the $200 million price tag. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, responsible for environmental regulations, approved the plans.
“We are excited to be in a position to start construction,” Madelyn Wils, chief executive of the Trust, said in a statement.
Community Board 2 – which covers the West Village, Greenwich Village, NoHo, SoHo and the area encompassing the pier – also approved the park, with 43 board members in favor and 2 opposed.
Approval for the venue, one of the first of its kind, has not come without complications. For some activists, the construction of the pier raises larger environmental issues like whether it’s okay to build a park on an active waterway.
A long court battle led to the dismissal of a lawsuit against the project, filed by the City Club of New York in 2015.
Rob Buchanan, former New School professor and lead activist in the lawsuit, expressed concern over how the Trust attained approval.
“The park did not do, the Trust did not do, the Environmental Impact Statement,” he said. “They did the lesser statement, which is the EAS (Environmental Assessment Statement).”
Buchandan said that the Environmental Assessment Statement followed a low standard.
“They argue that was sufficient, and we argue that it was completely insufficient,” he said. “One of the communities that you would seek out as part of your environmental assessment is the boating community. You would say ‘well what kind of impact is this going to have on you?’ And nobody ever spoke to me or anybody I know.”
He added: “The problem here is we are taking a public resource and giving it away to someone whose intentions may be good, but we can’t set the precedent of giving public resources away to private interests.”
Still, the New York State Court of Appeals on Oct. 25 denied a bid by the City Club to stop the project, upholding a Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court ruling a month earlier.
For now, Wils is getting ready for construction, which is set to be completed in 2019. So far, 55 of the 535 planned columns have been erected to support the pending structure.
“We’re continuing with construction and Hudson River Park looks forward to welcoming visitors to what will be one of the city’s most spectacular new public spaces,” she said.