“Tentative Deal” Announced for Pier 40 Air Rights Sale
To the surprise of many, last week it was reported that Governor Cuomo, Hudson River Park officials, and the developers who own the three-block-long St. John's Terminal Building along West Street between Clarkson and Charlton Streets had arrived at a "tentative deal" to sell air rights from nearby Pier 40. Such a deal would generate income for the park by allowing the development of larger buildings on the St. John's site than currently allowed.
While details have been sparse, the deal appears to revolve around the use of a State 'General Project Plan' (GPP) as a means to allow the air rights from the park to be transferred. Such a mechanism only requires approval by the Governor, Assembly Speaker, and State Senate Majority Leader, thus offering the impacted communities little if any say or leverage over the outcome. It is for this reason that GVSHP and a coalition of West Side community groups reached out to Governor Cuomo and other government officials early on to urge that a GPP not be used (read letter here).
Now Mayor de Blasio is calling for any deal to also go through the city's land use review or ULURP process. The Mayor does not appear to have any ability to force the deal to go through the city's land use review process or to make the city approvals conditional for the deal moving ahead (as opposed to simply allowing the City to review the plan and issue non-binding recommendations), though it is possible that he could persuade the Governor to allow this. The city's ULURP process far from guarantees a good outcome or an outcome which reflects the wishes of the affected community, as evidenced by the ULURP approvals for the NYU Expansion Plan, the St. Vincent's/Rudin Condo rezoning, or the Chelsea Market upzoning. But it does at least have the benefit of requiring approval of the City Council, over which the local Councilmember can exert influence, thus giving the local community some opportunity to potentially affect the outcome.
In recent weeks, the Hudson River Park Trust has stated at multiple public meetings that no transfer of air rights from the park was imminent, and that any transfer would go through the ULURP process. Read GVSHP's letter to Hudson River Park Trust Chair Madelyn Wils here.
The transfer of air rights from the Hudson River Park to generate income for the park and allow an increase in allowable development inland was made possible in 2013 by legislation introduced by Assemblymembers Glick and Gottfried, approved by local State Senators Hoylman and Squadron, and signed by Governor Cuomo.
GVSHP will continue to seek answers regarding the proposed transfer of air rights from the Hudson River Park and to forcefully advocate for protecting our neighborhood from overdevelopment. Click here for more information on the Hudson River Park air rights issue and our work to ensure that they do not lead to overdevelopment.