Is the Hudson River Park Tax in Trouble?

valentine running on hrp rocks 41312“An effort to create a neighborhood tax to support the Hudson River Park was dealt a severe blow this week as its prime proponent, real estate developer Douglas Durst, withdrew his support for it.” That’s from a Capital New York article detailing how the increasingly fractious relationship between Durst and the Friends of Hudson River Park has now affected—and possibly derailed—the plans for a Neighborhood Improvement District (and the tax that goes with it).

More from the article by Dana Rubenstein: “Durst believes that a recent piece of legislation allowing for the park to sell its air rights to help fund the park undermines his efforts to win support for the neighborhood improvement district. […] Durst contends that the sale of those rights, and the ensuing development of tall buildings on the eastern side of West Street, would block the river-facing views of existing property owners and devalue their property. It is the those same owners who are being asked to support a new tax on themselves to help fund park improvements.”

On Tuesday, Scott M. Lawin, vice chairman of the Friends of Hudson River Park, emailed the members of the NID steering committee about the change—and how the FOHRP intends to continue pursuing the NID.

Dear Neighborhood Improvement District Steering Committee members,

As you may already be aware, the New York State Assembly and the New York State Senate passed a bill before the close of session last week that amends the Hudson River Park Act. Although the final bill did not incorporate everything the Trust fought for, it provides many significant and important additional rights plus language clarifications that will provide new opportunities for the Park to improve its bottom line and help support its viability into the future. Full details of the bill are available here.

The NID Steering Committee will be undergoing some important changes as well. The Durst Organization will be stepping back from its active involvement supporting the Steering Committee, and Friends of Hudson River Park will assume daily responsibility for furthering the group’s objectives going forward. Melissa Pianko will be stepping down as co-chair, but will remain on the Steering Committee.

We continue to see growing support for the NID, however, there remain concerns amongst the communities in the NID that still need to be addressed. I believe it is best to monitor these important developments over the summer which may further adjust the timeline and outreach efforts that were discussed at the Steering Committee meeting last week. We will schedule our next meeting in late July to discuss where we are and the plan forward. Until that time, I would ask for your support as sole Chair of the Steering Committee, and look forward to identifying a new co-chair.

Thank you again for all of your time and effort on this project.  I truly appreciate your commitment to Hudson River Park and to the NID and we are extremely grateful for your continued support as we move forward. The passage of the legislation is a significant win for the Park, but it does not fully address the near term operating shortfall the NID is focused on addressing. I firmly believe creation of the NID remains an important component to ensure the future success of Hudson River Park, and I hope you will remain behind the proposal and continue as a member of the Steering Committee. Please contact me directly with any questions you may have.


Scott M. Lawin
Vice Chairman, Friends of Hudson River Park



  1. This is really unfortunate. The Park MAY be getting capital funds as a result of the change in legislation (but even that is not certain). As a result the Park will STILL need maintenance dollars. Not to mention the fact that none of this does ANYTHING for the median which is a trash filled embarrassment to this great City that the NID would help resolve. So in the end we are still facing the same challenges as before.

  2. I think this is wonderful news, and I applaud Mr. Durst for his realistic assessment of the situation. Time for Friends to stop wasting money and time on a losing prospect. The NID had no chance- too many New Yorkers are opposed to paying for parks with private slush funds that are not controlled by elected officials. It also violates BID guidelines and simply wouldn’t have passed muster in the legislative process. Friends needs new goals- maybe finally focusing on private philanthropy and working with the community to get public input on the air rights proposal.

    TinaF, your comment above is simply incorrect. Dollars are fungible, and now the Trust can devote more dollars to maintenance. Once the capital projects are complete, the piers should be able to have sustainable revenue sources that will generate even more dollars for maintenance. Also, other changes to the Act such as the passenger ship tax will generate millions for the Trust. Not to mention, you may want to pay a tax to clean up West Side Highway medians but personally I think we should pressure the DOT to do their job. And who says we all want perfect landscaping everywhere? I like the medians a little wild and not sure I want pretty tulips there that will just get covered in trash from inconsiderate drivers!

    Let’s see how the new Act changes go- but shortsighted to put a permanent tax in place without giving our elected officials a chance to work on other solutions.

  3. Durst got posterized by Novogratz. Hedge funder Novogratz won via Albany. Durst real estate lost in City Hall. Times are a changin