A pier without peer: Pier 26 promises unique, eco-oriented attraction unlike anything on the water front

Pier 26 at Hudson River Park is meant to give busy Downtowners a place to make and easy connection to nature just footsteps away from the concrete jungle.
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Hudson River Park “broke ground” at Pier 26 on Tues., Oct. 9, as local politicians and community leaders celebrated the driving of the final pile for the Tribeca pier. The next step will see a platform added atop the piles.

The long-awaited pier is expected to open in 2020 with lounge areas, kid-sized fields and a “science playground.” Atop the pier platform, a pathway will cut through a forested area and lawn before leading to the two playing fields, with a lounge area on the south side. Tiered seating will lead into a walkway surrounded by a marsh area, designed to attract native birds and some 70 types of fish native to the river. 

“This will be unlike anything that has been built in New York,” said Madelyn Wils, the Trust’s president. “This neighborhood has grown and changed. We are committed to serving everyone.” 

For Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, the long-planned pier is a prime example of a public/private partnership that worked. 

“These things are labors of love that take an extraordinary amount of time,” Glen said. “I think it’s the recognition that projects like this have to transcend political administrations.”

Photo by Sydney Pereira
Local politicians and officials get ready to lower their flags, the symbolic signal for pile driving to start. From left, state Senator Brian Kavanagh; Holly Leicht, chairperson of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation; Michael Novogratz, chairperson of Hudson River Park Friends; Assemblymember Deborah Glick; Madelyn Wils, president and C.E.O. of the Hudson River Park Trust; Congressmember Jerrold Nadler; Diana Taylor, Trust board chairperson; Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen; Citi C.E.O. Mike Corbat, and Rose Harvey, commissioner of the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commission.

In 2015, Lower Manhattanites weighed in on possibilities for the pier, including sports facilities and open green space focused on the educational mission. Earlier this year, Wils presented to Community Board 1 a design for the pier that packed both “asks” — passive and active recreational uses — onto the pier. She also highlighted the pier’s connection to the future estuarium, which will house five classrooms — two for kindergarten through eighth grade and three for college level — and a technology exhibit. 

The $30 million pier project was funded equally between the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, CitiGroup and the city. The estuarium’s price tag is $50 million,of which the Trust has raised $10 million so far. 

For CB 1 Vice Chairperson Paul Hovitz, lack of full funding for the estuarium is a concern.

“They really don’t have their funding in place for the estuarium, which seems to be the major part of the educational piece of this effort,” he said.

Hovitz called Pier 26 “terrific.” But he anticipates pushback about Pier 25, just to the south, where an agreement is in the works between the Trust and Citi to create a private dock for Citi to shuttle its employees between Jersey City and Pier 25 by water taxi. 

“On the one hand, we’re grateful,” Hovitz said of Citi’s helping fund the Pier 26 project. “On the other hand, we’re ever-diligent about what’s happening with our open space and public land that has now become public/private.”

This article has been updated to indicate the cost of the estuarium is $50 million, not $20 million as previously reported.

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