His Ship’s Come In: Hedgie Michael Novogratz Named Chairman of Friends of Hudson River Park

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Messrs. Novogratz and Pietrantone enjoying the park. (FHRP/Flickr)

The Friends of Hudson River Park have traded a real estate big for a Wall Street one.

Today, the West Side park booster group announced that Michael Novogratz, head of Fortress Capital, will take over from Douglas Durst, the former board chair, who left last month over a dispute about the future of Pier 40 and the direction of the trust that overseas the park.

Mr. Novogratz has been a board member of Friends for some time now, and an announcement calls him “an avid user of the park.” After all, the hedge fund manager and city’s foremost wrestling booster lives around the corner in a multimillion-dollar compound he has assembled at 110 Hudson Street in Tribeca.

Mr. Novogratz said he will continue to focus on expanding the donor base at Friends, among the controversial moves that drove off Mr. Durst. Previously, it has been more of an advocacy and oversight group, but increasingly it has been called upon to raise funds for the money-hungry waterfront oasis.

“I am excited to serve as the new Chairman of the Friends,” Mr. Novogratz said in a statement. “The next few years will be a critical time for the Park as we work together to combat the substantial financial and infrastructure challenges we face. My focus will be on expanding the number of donors for the Park’s operations and raising capital funds so that we maintain its status as one of New York’s premier parks.  We also need to make sure that this park, which is so important to the west side community, gets completed in a timely fashion.”

The Friends also announced that A.J. Pietrantone, executive director of the Friends of Hudson River Park, will be stepping down, having successfully completed the new integration between the group and the trust. “I am confident that Mike will help to further strengthen and grow our assets, while ensuring a smooth transition for staff leadership as well,” Mr. Pietrantone said.

“The Trust and the Friends enter this new phase of cooperation more aligned than ever,” said Madelyn Wils, director of the trust.