Barry Diller’s Pier 55 Proposal Resurrected After Cuomo Steps In
Governor Andrew Cuomo has intervened to resurrect Barry Diller’s pie-in-the-sky vision for a floating park at Pier 55, according to a statement from the governor’s office yesterday.
The City Club of New York has agreed to drop its lawsuit that blocked Diller’s ambitious proposal and argued that construction of the park would endanger wildlife along the Hudson River. Cuomo managed to broker a compromise between Diller and the City Club, whose lawsuit was being financed by developer Douglas Durst.
Under the agreement, Diller will be able to push forward with developing the $250 million park and performance venue near West 14th Street. The governor promised state funding to complete the full five mile length of Hudson River Park, which runs from Battery Park to West 59th Street, by the end of his second term, assuming he’s re-elected.
“I have spoken to the parties involved in the lawsuit against Pier 55 and expressed my belief that cooperative efforts to complete the overall Park are more constructive than litigation and stalemate,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I believe all parties have a higher goal and desire that the Park should be completed, and can be completed, in the near future.”
The deal comes as a surprise after Diller announced in September that he was abandoning his plans because he was tired of pouring millions of dollars, and years of his life, into fighting opponents of his Pier 55 plan in court.
“Because of the huge escalating costs and the fact it would have been a continuing controversy over the next three years I decided it was no longer viable for us to proceed,” he told The New York Times on September 13.
The head of IAC Corp. said he had grown weary of fighting the City Club, which scored a victory in court in the spring when a judge ruled the Army Corps of Engineers didn’t properly consider the impact that the proposed pier would have on wildlife in the area. The cost of the park had also quadrupled to $250 million from $35 million six years ago, thanks to legal wrangling and soaring pre-construction costs.
In a statement released by the governor’s office yesterday, Diller said, “I have had countless people tell me how much they were looking forward to having this new Pier, and how unfortunate were the circumstances of its cancellation. This has all had a profound effect on me and my family…In these last weeks, I began to think that we should not let it go, and that I would try to put aside the disappoints and difficulties of these last years.”