The city is moving forward with demolition to clear the way for a new four-acre park and boulevard as well as the entrance for the new terminal station for the No. 7 train for the massive Hudson Yards redevelopment project on Manhattan’s West Side.
The city is expected to award its first contracts this week to raze two buildings on two large parcels spanning from 34th to 36th streets, and 10th to 11th avenues, which will become part of the new Hudson Boulevard and park.
And a block to the south, the city is seeking bids that are due Friday for the demolition of the former FedEx World Service Center building at 528-556 West 34th Street, to make way for the entrance to the No. 7 train on 33rd Street.
The buildings will be brought down in what many fear will be the worst economic recession in decades, leading critics to wonder who is going to build and occupy the massive skyscrapers envisioned for the Hudson Yards district or whether the structures will come down but nothing will rise in their places, a waste of functional buildings.
Hudson Boulevard and the park comprise a mid-block open space that is planned to run from 33rd to 39th streets between 10th and 11th avenues, and be lined with large office and residential towers. The first phase of the park and boulevard, from 33rd to 36th streets, is slated to be completed in 2013. A design team is expected to be named in the next several weeks, city officials said.
The city-led Hudson Yards Development Corporation is overseeing the long-term project to redevelop the West Side.
The two large parcels that will make up the park and boulevard are now mostly occupied by buildings but also include vacant land.
The three buildings that are coming down are a six-story, red brick residential building at 545 West 34th Street, and a seven-story commercial building at 524-542 West 36th Street, both between 10th and 11th avenues, in addition to the FedEx building.
Joe Restuccia, executive director of the West Side advocacy group Clinton Housing Development Company, which helped tenants from 545 West 34th Street find new apartments, said the weak private development market would likely assure that the land remained empty for years.
“Do you believe there is a speculative office building that will be built on the West Side?” he said. “My real concern is the land will be vacant for quite some time and there won’t be any improvement in the area.”
David Farber, vice president and general counsel at the Hudson Yards Development Corporation, wrote in an email: “The park and boulevard remain on schedule to be completed in 2013, and therefore we must go ahead with that demolition work.”
Five demolition bids have been received for the two park and boulevard parcels, which are expected to cost approximately $6 million to $8.5 million each, said a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which is handling the demolition contracts.
The bids were closed October 24 and the city had 45 days to select a contractor, the HPD spokesperson said. The city may choose a contractor after the 45-day period, but the winning company is no longer bound by its bid.