Secret Pier 40 air rights transfer deal falls apart

Six-month-old deal to give way to state or city review process
June 09, 2014 06:00PM

A memorandum of understanding outlining a controversial deal to transfer unused air rights from the Hudson River Park’s Pier 40 to a proposed four-story terminal building at 550 Washington Street isn’t going to happen.

Attorney Arthur Schwartz, who told the Villager last week that he was mulling a possible lawsuit to block the proposed air rights transfer on the grounds that an environmental impact study should be performed, told the news site that Madelyn Wils, president of the Hudson River Park Trust, “confirmed that the M.O.U. is dead.”

The M.O.U. between the Hudson River Park, the Empire State Development Corporation and Atlas Capital Group, was reportedly signed six months ago, as the New York Times revealed at the time. Local elected officials have since written to Kenneth Adams, president and CEO of the ESDC requesting a copy. Despite the request and plans to file a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain a copy, the agreement still has not been seen publicly. The plan reportedly called for the demolition of the three-block-long, four-story building at 550 Washington Street, and for a replacement structure to be rebuilt in phases with a mix of residential and commercial units.

A state-run General Project Plan or Uniform Land Use Review Procedure may still take place on the site, the Villager reported.

“Full transparency is required,” Gale Brewer, Manhattan borough president, told the news site. “We were all shocked to learn of this secret M.O.U. I am happy the city is committed to bringing the process under city review and including community input.” [The Villager]Julie Strickland