The Real Deal New York

High Line co-founder thinks park failed Chelsea residents

Park benefits tourists, luxury developers

Robert Hammond and the High Line (Credit: Friends of the High Line)

Robert Hammond, one of the co-founders of the High Line, says mistakes were made.

In an interview with City Lab, Hammond lamented that Chelsea residents aren’t the biggest beneficiaries of the park. A recent study by the City University of New York found that park patrons are “overwhelmingly white,” despite the fact that nearly one-third of the neighborhood’s residents are people of color.

“We were from the community. We wanted to do it for the neighborhood,” he told City Lab. “Ultimately, we failed.”

The High Line drew eight million visitors in 2016 and is expected to generate $1 billion in tax revenues over the next 20 years. The park has driven up property values and inspired a slew of luxury residential developments, such as 500 West 21st Street, 520 West 28th Street and 505 West 19th Street.

Hammond now serves as the executive director of Friends of the High Line, which has launched initiatives to reach the community — including a job program for teens. Hammond also started the High Line Network, which aims to help other cities create adaptive reuse parks like the High Line without making the same “mistakes,” he said. [City Lab] — Kathryn Brenzel