She could have been talking about the weather.
On Thursday afternoon, at the Department of City Planning conference room at 22 Reade Street, Hudson River Park Trust president Connie Fishman revealed the blockbuster news that the Trust had awarded Youngwoo & Associates development rights for the West 15th Street pier with the aplomb worthy of a proctor announcing the end of an exam.
Nobody batted an eye.
That’s likely because Youngwoo & Associates’ two competitors for the Pier 57 rights—the Related Companies and the Durst Organization—had apparently backed away from the project when the various limitations became too onerous. According to sources, the project ceased to strike them as feasible in its current form and with the current state of the credit markets (frozen).
Greg Carney, a partner at Youngwoo, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the source of the developer’s financing.
Youngwoo is headed by the developer Young Woo, 56, who The Observer recently profiled. Mr. Woo has recently become a force in the New York real estate scene, having gone into contract for AIG’s two Lower Manhattan skyscrapers.
His proposal is heavily arts-based, with permanent space for the Tribeca Film Festival, art galleries, and an open-air market to be managed by Urban Space Management, the same firm that does the holiday markets in Union Square, Columbus Circle, and the upcoming autumn market in Madison Square Park.
The full release, issued immediately following the vote, is below.
NEW YORK, July 30, 2009 – The Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) has conditionally designated Youngwoo & Associates, LLC as developer of the historic Pier 57. The YWA team was one of three to seek the right to redevelop the pier, following a request for proposals issued by HRPT in June of 2008.
Youngwoo & Associates (YWA) will transform Pier 57 into an innovative hub of cultural, recreational and public market activities, all located within a restored historic structure that will also create several acres of public open space on the Pier 57 rooftop and along a perimeter waterfront promenade. The Trust’s Board of Directors approved the conditional designation at its July 30, 2009 meeting. HRPT is a not-for-profit entity responsible for the design, construction, maintenance and operation of the 550-acre Hudson River Park.
“We are extremely pleased to announce the selection of Youngwoo & Associates as developers of Pier 57,” said Diana Taylor, chair of the Hudson River Park Trust. “The combination of imaginative architecture and creative uses enjoys strong community support, ensuring that Pier 57 will become a centerpiece of Hudson River Park and the western anchor of the thriving MeatPacking District.”
“With its proposal, Youngwoo & Associates has laid out an exciting vision for the future of historic Pier 57, which will undoubtedly become a dynamic new cultural hub for both Hudson River Park and New York City,” said Connie Fishman, president of the Trust.
YWA’s plan for Pier 57 includes a 170,000 square-foot covered, open-air public market – to be programmed and managed by Urban Space Management (USM) and housed in part in recycled and creatively refitted shipping containers. The market will be New York’s first large-scale concentration of year-round, affordable work/sell space for artisans and other small businesses. USM operates the holiday markets in Grand Central Station and Union Square, as well as several of the biggest, most popular public markets in London, including Camden Lock.
The Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) will establish a permanent outdoor venue on the roof of the pier, offering a mix of film, music and arts-based programming and promoting cultural connections between New York’s artistic community and the general public. In addition to hosting parts of the annual film festival itself, the Pier 57 “Sky Park” will be the year-round backdrop for a variety of exhibitions and performances conceived by TFF and YWA to educate, entertain and inspire independent artists and audiences alike.
The plan also calls for a “Contemporary Culture Center” of approximately 90,000 square-feet on the ground floor, envisioned as a unique mix of auction, exhibition, gallery and entertainment space centered around the contemporary arts. Seasonal docks will be provided for kayaks, canoes and other small craft. Other features include a two-acre rooftop park, restaurants and an “Underwater Discovery Center” in one of the pier’s historic caissons. Redevelopment of the pier, a National Historic Registry structure containing approximately 375,000 square feet of buildable waterfront space, is estimated to cost a total of $210 million.
“Youngwoo & Associates is thrilled and honored to have been selected to redevelop this historic, one-of-a-kind property at Pier 57,” said Greg Carney, Partner at YWA. “We are grateful to the Hudson River Park Trust for placing its confidence in our team and are deeply committed to transforming the pier into a meaningful, dynamic destination for New Yorkers and visitors from all walks of life.”
Founded in 1979, the Manhattan-based Youngwoo & Associates has identified and developed a variety of specialized projects in the New York Metro area, throughout the United States and internationally. YWA prides itself on innovative thinking and the ability to anticipate evolving real estate trends.
In June 2008, the Hudson River Park Trust issued an RFP seeking proposals that would allow this historic pier to be reused for revenue generating commercial activities that enhance the park. The Trust reviewed the three responses to determine their compliance with the Hudson River Park Act and the criteria spelled out in the RFP, including:
• Compatibility of the proposed uses with the Park;
• Capacity of the development team to complete the project;
• The design of the project, including its respect for the pier’s historic structure;
• The financial feasibility of the project; and
• The revenue it will generate for the Trust.
Located on the Hudson River at 15th Street, Pier 57 is prominently visible from the High Line and is at the western end of Manhattan’s Meat Packing District, considered one of the City’s most sought after neighborhoods. The Meat Packing District has seen an explosion of luxury retail and high-end restaurants, clubs, hotels, galleries and residential development over the last seven years, making Pier 57 an ideal site for commercial development. Others who submitted proposals include The Durst Organization/C&K Properties and Related Companies.
Hudson River Park is the largest recreational amenity and open space to be built in Manhattan since the opening of Central Park more than 150 years ago. With more than half of the Park already complete, it offers a range of activities including biking, boating, fishing, jogging and – weather permitting – sunbathing. The Park is also home to five miles of the nation’s busiest bikeway. The Trust sponsors a series of free educational programs, sports and outdoor entertainment such as concerts, movies, starlight dancing and amateur boxing.
About Hudson River Park Trust
Hudson River Park Trust is a partnership between New York State and City charged with the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the five-mile Hudson River Park. A public benefit corporation and 501(c) (3) charitable organization, the Trust is governed by a thirteen-member Board of Directors and employs a focused, diverse staff with experience in parks, design, finance, public policy, operations and maintenance. It is governed by the Hudson River Park Act, a 1998 law that established the park, the Trust and its governing requirements. The Trust has a fifty-member Advisory Council that plays an integral role in the park planning process. The Advisory Council is comprised of elected officials and representatives from the business, environmental, civic and community groups.