A Deal to Save Pier 40

courtesy Google MapsNo surprise here: The New York Times is reporting that…

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration and park officials have struck a tentative agreement with a developer to transfer unused development rights from the 14 1/2-acre pier to a site across the West Side Highway occupied by a sprawling building, in return for more than $100 million that would be used to rehabilitate Pier 40, which is crumbling more rapidly than originally feared. […] The owners of the four-story St. John’s Terminal Building, which stretches more than three blocks between West Houston and Spring Streets, would demolish the structure in phases over 10 years and build several residential buildings and retail shops. […] The proposed project would start at the northern end of the property. The southern portion would have to wait, because of existing leases for warehouse and office space in the St. John’s building.

Wasn’t the recent deal to transfer air rights from the park to neighboring properties almost entirely about the St. John’s Terminal Building and Pier 40?

pier 40 41312550 washington courtesy google mapsAnyway, the article goes on to detail how Pier 40 is in bad shape, even worse that previously thought, and how there’s no money to save it, but the kids must have places to play soccer, and so on. All of which is to help community members get over their deep-set anti-development feelings, so that local politicians don’t get blamed.

“Officials say that the proposal would have to go through a state review process, but not necessarily a city-led review,” said the Times. But then it also says that “The proposal would require approval by both the city and elected officials and entail a state-mandated approval process, zoning changes and other concessions.”

There’s no mention of this, from the Wall Street Journal last July: “Mike Novogratz, the chairman of Friends of Hudson River Park, a fundraising and advocacy arm that pushed for the legislation, […] is a principal at Fortress Investment Group, which oversees funds that own a controlling stake in the former St. John’s Terminal Building. […] Mr. Novogratz said he would likely give away benefits he ultimately reaped from development at the St. John’s site to the park.”

P.S. I was poking around online, looking for the address of the St. John’s Terminal Building, when I came across a page on Selldorf Architects website titled “St. John’s Terminal Redevelopment Concept Study.” An important caveat: It’s unclear how old these renderings and schematics are, or whether they’re under consideration at all. UPDATE: Tribeca Resident points out that they are indeed old (and likely a fraction of how big the development will ultimately be)—but I think they’re helpful anyway as a starting point for discussion.

Selldorf Architects completed a concept study for the redevelopment of St. John’s Freight Terminal, the former terminus of the High Line railroad which served Manhattan’s West Side. The plan preserves the existing terminal building and converts it into a public art gallery, retail stores, community market, and offices. The top of the building is given a new architectural life with a hotel tower, mixed-use building, and a network of habitable green roof parks. The language of the addition reflects the building’s heritage as a major piece of industrial infrastructure with its exposed steel structure lattice.

St Johns Terminal Building redevlopment concept2 courtesy Selldorf ArchitectsSt Johns Terminal Building redevlopment concept3 courtesy Selldorf ArchitectsSt Johns Terminal Building redevlopment concept4 courtesy Selldorf Architects



  1. it’s all bs just like piers 25 & 26. they should just let pier 40 slowly rot and condemn it section by section. screw up the west village zoning for what? to save a crappy ball field and a parking lot. unfortunately, that will never happen. there’s too much money to be made by turning hudson river park into disneyland.

  2. i wouldn’t put much stock into the rendering you found for the st. johns building. it’s more likely to be some starchetect towers like they have by christopher st.

  3. Those are the old renderings using just the currently available FAR on the site, and the existing commercial zoning (hence why it shows a hotel). Its the inevitable outcome for Pier 40 although there will undoubtedly be community opposition. The Times shouldn’t ignore the fact that Michael Novogratz is Chair of the Board at HRP and a Principal at Fortress- which owns the building. The community will have to lobby hard to ensure Fortress is paying a market price for those air rights.