Hudson River Park Air Rights Update: Lots of Chatter, Few Facts Confirmed
There’ve been a lot of media reports over the last several weeks about plans for the use of air rights from the Hudson River Park. What there has been painfully little of, however, is direct statements from public officials confirming or clarifying what has or has not been decided about Hudson River Park air rights transfers. Unfortunately, this has been part of an ongoing pattern.
In May, the New York Times first reported that local elected officials had recently become aware that the State and Governor Cuomo were moving forward with plans to transfer air rights from Pier 40 to the St. John’s Building using a state process that would not require a ULURP, or approval by the NY City Council or City Planning Commission. While GVSHP has long been critical of the use of a ULURP to approve Hudson River Park air rights transfers, such a process would at least allow the local affected community some leverage over the outcome, whereas the State process would offer virtually none. GVSHP had objected to the use of a State process from the beginning, and when word broke, we mobilized our members to contact Governor Cuomo to urge him to drop this plan (thank you to all who wrote!).
More recently, it has been reported, but not confirmed, that the Governor may now be moving away from the original plan to transfer the air rights without the local approval process. However, this has not been directly and publicly confirmed by the Governor, the Mayor, the Hudson River Park Trust, or the local elected officials who have been communicating with them.
Therefore we must remain vigilant about the possibility of the use of a State approval process to transfer air rights from Pier 40 to the St. John’s Building now or in the future. Even if the Governor does subject the current plan for Pier 40 air rights transfers to the ULURP, or local approval, process, this only applies to a fraction of the park's air rights. There will be more plans for more transfers in the future, and a State approval process may rear its head again.
Even if it does not, the transfer of air rights from the Hudson River Park, as enabled by State legislation passed last year, is fraught with possibilities for abuse and overdevelopment of our neighborhood.
In light of this, GVSHP is continuing to pursue the following:
A full accounting of how many air rights the State legislation has made eligible for sale and transfer inland
Alternatives to the use of air rights to generate funds for the park, including a tax on all new development in the zone adjacent to the park
Alternatives to increasing the size of allowable development inland as a means of generating revenue for the park, by combining air rights transfers with downzonings or use group changes
Putting restrictions in place to help ensure that air rights transfers cannot take place without demonstrating that they are necessary to meet an agreed-upon financial need for the park
GVSHP will continue to pursue these and other strategies to protect our neighborhood and ensure that the Hudson River Park air rights provision does not lead to the overdevelopment of our neighborhoods.