“We cannot quash the RFP right now, because if we do that, we would have to issue another one and nobody would respond,” Ms. Taylor told The Observer. “We have these two responses to the RFP and the Pier 40 Partnership proposal—none of them work financially, so we need to compromise somewhere in order to make something work.”
The murky directive to try to cooperate seems to have left Related and the Pier 40 Partnership unclear on how to proceed. Partnership member Rich Caccappolo said the group’s previous attempts to devise a plan with Related met little progress, with the vision of a nonprofit aimed at infrastructure improvements and minimal traffic clashing with that of a private developer that needs to see a financial return in order to be at the table.
“We’re glad to take part, we’re glad to try to make that happen, but we have met with the Related guys many times,” Mr. Caccappolo said. “It’s really a hard equation to solve, and most people who would look at it would be back into this scenario of ‘I need to put high-impact uses to replace the costs there.’”
So with no clear path almost six years after the trust first began seeking a developer for Pier 40, and Pier 57 starting with a clean slate almost three years after Witkoff was designated the developer, are there other options?
Some in the community have suggested the city and state chip in maintenance or more money toward infrastructure at the park, lessening the need for major private development. Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, who has been outspoken in opposition to the Related proposal, suggested self-sustainability was not a be-all, end-all in the original Hudson River Park Act.
“I think people have to go back and reread the legislation,” Ms. Glick said. “The legislation never said that every last penny to keep the park going has to be generated within the park.”
(The official wording in the act is that operations should be paid for by the commercial uses “to the extent practicable.”)
Though, with the city and the state facing multibillion-dollar budget gaps, trust board members hardly seem interested in dipping into government coffers any more than already necessary.
“The park isn’t finished yet, and there’s no knight waiting to ride to the rescue here,” said Mr. Benepe, the city parks commissioner. “Given the economic realities, the city and the state have already made a significant investment in this park.”