Mayor Michael Bloomberg led the groundbreaking ceremony for the first $260 million worth of developments on Governors Island today, the New York Times reported. The initial renovation phase of the increasingly trafficked island – visitors jumped to a half-million last year from 8,000 in 2005 – will add formal gardens, lawns, play areas and woodlands. But the bulk of the budget will be spent on much-needed infrastructure: repairing 2.2 miles of seawall, building a water-line to Brooklyn, demolishing 18 abandoned buildings and improving electrical and telecommunication facilities.
“Governors Island is the centerpiece of our efforts to revitalize New York City’s waterfront,” Bloomberg said. “In 2010, we promised that our administration would make Governors Island a destination that New Yorkers and visitors would be able to enjoy for generations. Today’s park groundbreaking takes us one step closer that goal.”
The island opens for the season this Saturday and is still offering free ferry rides. The state plans to eventual phase-in commercial developments, hotels and even college dormitories, however, there will be no stand-alone housing. The island currently features 33 acres of developable space for commercial use and 1.4 million square feet of buildings. The public parkland phase is scheduled for completion in fall of 2013. [NYT]