Preliminary Study for Hudson River Park Air Rights Underway

By Catherine Yang, Epoch Times
January 23, 2014 Updated: January 23, 2014

Hudson River Park Trust CEO Madelyn Wils gave a presentation at a Community Board 4 meeting in Manhattan Jan. 22 to discuss the preliminary study underway looking into the air rights which the park was recently permitted to sell.

The bill Governor Andrew Cuomo signed late last year now allows the park to transfer unused air rights in the park to one block inland. Wils has called the bill a relief, as there are still areas of the park unfinished and this would reduce pressure to develop commercial piers in the park.

Since the park’s inception, about $4 billion in construction has been completed or is underway.

“Yet Hudson River Park has not been able to partake in any of those value-add possibilities,” Wils said.

Wils says the Trust’s proposal is to sell undeveloped air rights from commercial nodes and have the money go back to the same community board the air rights came from for capital construction in the park.

Some members were ready to come up with a plan for the Department of City Planning to react to rather than waiting for the fate of their neighborhood to be determined by others, but there was still a sense of frustration with the lack of regulation to work with.

The Trust is currently working with students from Cornell University to create a preliminary study while waiting to meet with the yet-to-be-appointed head of City Planning.

Many questions were raised at the meeting but solid answers wouldn’t be available until after the meeting with the head of Planning.

”Unfortunately we’ve had a four month lag,” Wils said.

Some residents hoped there would be a way to benefit from current construction of new development via tax levy seeing as there would now be a discussion with the city. Members from Community Board 2 were present as well.

According to the early findings of the preliminary study, there are not many evident development sites a block across from the park. The sites include a plot between West 41st and West 40th Streets, and one on West 30th Street. The study is looking at sites that don’t need extra rezoning in order to develop.

Piers with undeveloped air rights include Pier 76 which needs three acres of parkland, and Pier 40 which still needs repairs from Irene damage.

”This is what we hope will start our discussion with City Planning, as soon as there is a new chair,” Wils said.