An Air Rights Plan to Help Hudson River Park

April 2, 2014

You may have heard about an innovative and ambitious plan being developed by the Hudson River Park Trust, intended as a way to finance (in part) the ongoing construction and continued maintenance of the group’s namesake, five-mile-long open space, which stretches from the Battery to 59th Street in Manhattan, encompassing a “500-acre footprint” including over a dozen piers extending into the Hudson.

The group is currently in the planning stages for a proposal that would effectively transfer unused development rights tied to a certain number of the existing piers (quoted in recent press coverage as the equivalent of approximately 1.6 million square feet), to an area defined as a special “transfer district” (similar to the underlying framework along the High Line and other delineated areas in the City), covering roughly one City block’s width in from the shoreline, for the full length of the Park.

How these transfers would be done exactly, and where they would wind up — and the refinement of the guiding land use rationale — all remain to be seen, but the HRPT did gain a step forward with last year’s State legislation which granted the Trust the authority to carry out such transfers. Earlier this year, HRPT visited the affected Community Boards, making preliminary concept presentations, meant to solicit initial feedback and generate interest among these critical stakeholders. We attended one of these informational sessions, where the Trust also indicated that it was waiting for a new City Planning Commission Chairperson to be appointed before making its opening statement with some of the key Administration policy makers. Now that Carl Weisbrod has since assumed the Chair’s office, we look forward to hearing more about the HRPT’s progress, and what specific guidance the Department may be providing in these early stages.