When the Friends of Hudson River Park invited me to its July 4 fireworks-viewing party, I politely declined because I was planning on being away—and then I pointed out that if there was any way to get a sneak peek of Pier 26 and the rest of the park’s unfinished Tribeca section, I’d be thrilled. “Happy to write it up with a why-you-should-donate angle,” I added. (I pander all the time on your behalf.)
Some might think it a bit awkward, however, to remind you why you should donate—whether it’s by giving directly to the Friends of Hudson River Park, as a gift in someone’s honor, attending the park’s benefit events, volunteering, or whatever—two days after the Friends of Hudson River Park presented its plan for a Neighborhood Improvement District to Community Board 1. On the other hand, if you’ve lived in New York City for 10 years or more, you can certainly remember what the area was like before the park; and if you live here at all you can see how much joy the park brings daily, not to mention what it’s done for property values.
Besides, money from a Neighborhood Improvement District would only go to maintenance and operations, not to developing the remaining part of the park. And when the Hudson River Park Trust’s president and CEO Madelyn Wils (pictured at top)—who is also a Tribeca citizen—personally showed me around the unfinished Tribeca section, I felt it even more strongly: We need to get this done.
Now, to the photos! All of which are enlargeable by clicking on them.
First, the esplanade. Wils confirmed that the funding for the esplanade is complete, and work on the portion from Laight to Hubert started last week. The hope is that it’ll be done by next spring, definitely by sometime next summer, although one chunk of the esplanade must remain unfinished for access/staging for Pier 26 construction. Still, the bike path will be separated out, a relief to anyone who walks, jogs, or rides in the park. Also: The new dog run—located to the north of the restaurant building (more on that in a sec) will open with the rest of the upland section. This photo is of the unfinished esplanade, looking north:
The building currently under construction is T-shaped; the restaurant is the part that parallels West Street; the perpendicular crossbar (at the northern end) is the boathouse. The request for proposals for the restaurant goes out next month. “I’ve said before that a seafood restaurant would make sense,” said Wils, given the setting, but obviously what it ends up being depends on the best proposal. She also mentioned that a restaurateur might conceivably split the building into two restaurants: one on the ground floor (which will have glass walls—the better to enjoy the views—and seating outside) and one on the open-air roof. She agreed that, for economic reasons, the restaurant will most likely have to be open year-round. The total seating is around 240, with 150 of those outside. The little structure visible on the roof—to the right of the cinder-block part—is for service and prep, and it’ll also house the staircase and restroom (once it’s enlarged).
As we headed out onto the pier (indulging me even though there’s nothing on it), we discussed the plans for an estuarium. “We’ve been talking to CUNY, NYU, Columbia, and the New School,” said Wils. “The issue isn’t just capital construction but finding an institution that’s willing to operate and pay for it.” The estuarium, if it’s built, will be about three-quarters of the way out. “We’re hoping to reach a conclusion soon.” As for the rest of the pier, the idea had been that it would be more about passive recreation, as opposed to Pier 25′s emphasis on activity. “But this area has changed so much. We’ll be talking to the community about what it should be.” Standing in the middle of the open space—the pier is around 800 feet long by 100 feet wide—I found it impossible not to get excited about the possibilities, and we agreed that in the meantime it would be a fantastic space to host events (such as the Friends of Hudson River Park’s recent benefit).