Pr. 40 needs $104M fix: Report

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON   |  More than half of the steel support piles holding up Pier 40 are damaged, and 1,000 of them should be shored up A.S.A.P. It’s estimated that repairs to the crumbling 14-acre W. Houston St. pier will cost at least $104 million and take 10 years.

These findings are in a new engineering report commissioned by the Hudson River Park Trust and completed in March, Crain’s New York Business reported.

To fund the sprawling “sports pier ’s rehab, the Trust plans to sell unused development rights from it to the St. John’s Center site located across the West Side Highway. Owner Atlas Capital Group wants to redevelop the site with a mixed-use project, including a hotel, probably to be built atop the existing structure.

But the logistics of the air-rights transfer is taking time to figure out. City Councilmember Corey Johnson recently told The Villager, “We are still not close to certification of the ULURP,” referring to the city’s seven-month-long review process. “There’s got to be a scoping process — that’s pre-ULURP — to determine the project’s size and which type of environmental study will be done; and the Trust has to appraise the air rights.”

Atlas previously had committed in a “secret M.O.U.” (memo of understanding) with the city to pay $100 million for the pier’s unused development rights.

Madelyn Wils, the Trust’s president, told Crain’s, “The timing has been slower than we would like. It was anticipated that the [Atlas] project would have already been out in the public by this time.”

In November, DNAinfo reported that it had obtained through a FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) request handwritten notes from a meeting between Atlas and Borough President Gale Brewer. The notes showed the project’s first phase as containing 450,000 square feet of condos and 100,000 square feet of retail, plus senior affordable housing.

The Villager subsequently also obtained those handwritten notes, which additionally state, “430 feet is tallest building,” and “No affordable housing on river side.”

The notes indicate that Pier 40, in fact, has 250,000 square feet of unused air rights. Atlas wants all of them for $100 million, which would equal $400 per square foot. However, this price has been criticized as low.

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