Robert Hammond announced this month that he will step down as executive director of Friends of the High Line at the end of the year. The self-described entrepreneur will leave the organization that he co-founded in 1999 with Joshua David in enviable shape. The High Line—the elevated park that in 2009 opened to the public on a long-abandoned former West Side freight railway trestle—drew 4.4 million visitors last year.
Friends of the High Line is in the midst of a $125 million capital campaign that will help fund stage three of the project and bring its northern terminus to West 34th Street. Once it officially runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District through Chelsea and to the Hudson Yards site, the High Line will serve as a pedestrian artery between three of the city’s most dynamic—and fastest changing—neighborhoods.
Mr. Hammond spoke to The Commercial Observer about the genesis of the project, the surrounding real estate gold rush it has amplified, if not prompted, and the backlash of a vocal minority.