| February 24, 2016 | Home & Real Estate
From Barry Diller’s $113 million pledge to erect an island off Pier 55, to starchitect Rafael Viñoly donating his services to the estuarium at Pier 26, Hudson River Park has become shorthand for the winning combo of community investment and private funding.
A rendering of Barry Diller’s “Billionaire’s Island.”
Gotham joined supporters and shapers of Friends of Hudson River Park—the non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the West Side park’s maintenance and growth—at American Cut in Tribeca to talk Barry Diller’s naysayers, Google’s new riverside digs, and why you can’t put a price on Manhattan’s waterfront.
What inspired you to join Friends of Hudson River Park?
Jeremy Stein: It always amazed me that the greatest city in the world had nothing on its waterfront. We’re now part of a renaissance where everything is going to change within our lifetime. What motivated me [to join Friends of Hudson River Park] was the realization that the park is privately funded.
Leonard Steinberg: The quality of life has changed dramatically on the West Side because of this park. People used to say, “Steps from Central Park.” Now, you can’t use the word “steps” anymore, but you can say, “Sandwiched between Hudson River Park and High Line Park.”
Nick Silvers: I became more involved after Hurricane Sandy. A few board members and Tribeca residents wrote checks to rebuild Pier 25 within five months so that our kids could run around on the park once summer came.
There has been lots of buzz about Barry Diller building “Billionaire’s Island” off Pier 55. Naysayers claim the money can be better used.
NS: I don’t see a difference between Barry Diller donating $113 million and John Paulson giving $100 million to Central Park [in 2012].
Greg Gushée: Bringing in someone like Thomas Heatherwick to do the design—that would have never happened had it been a public process.
David Juracich: The High Line struggled with decades of bureaucracy. Yet, people pushed forward and it’s now the number one tourist attraction in New York City.
LS: Whatever New York can build that’s incredibly distinctive to the city will always have tremendous long-term value.
JS: Same can be said for Rafael Viñoly donating his design services [to the estuarium at Pier 26]. I hope it creates competition so that every starchitect will want to get involved.
From left: Jeremy Stein, David Juracich, Leonard Steinberg, Nick Silvers, and Greg Gushée discuss the ripple effects of Hudson River Park over lunch at American Cut.
What residential buildings near the park have been the game-changers?
LS: 200 11th Avenue changed the entire perception as to what happens north of 23rd Street.
NS: Superior Ink established the whole corridor along Hudson River Park as a very exciting, ultra-luxury market.
DJ: We have a rental project on First Avenue and 36th Street that has us working a lot with the city, which is using Hudson River Park as a blueprint for the East Side.
10 Hudson Yards is quickly becoming the nation’s corporate epicenter—with Google signing up, among others.
GG: We have 10 million square feet of office space at Pier 57 and have completely leased the first two buildings to corporations like Coach, L’Oréal, SAP, Wells Fargo, and Time Warner.
NS: We just rented 119 West 24th Street to Anheuser-Busch. They wanted to bring all their creative here to take advantage of the urbanization and millennial trend.
LS: It’s all about walkable lifestyle. Imagine working at the super-pier of Google and walking home to West Chelsea.
GG: These corporations realize they need to attract top talent, and top talent wants to live in a well-connected area.
photography by tanya malott (panelists); © hudson river park (billionaire’s island); courtesy of related (70 vestry)