“Mr. Durst? Please hold for Mayor Bill de Blasio.”
Hizzoner personally put a call in to Douglas Durst last week, urging the developer to drop his financial support for the legal challenges that threaten to derail media mogul Barry Diller’s $250 million park on the Hudson River, according to the New York Times.
The overture from City Hall appears to be the first step in opening negotiations between the Hudson River Park Trust and the City Club of New York, a small civic organization that was all but forgotten before it waged a campaign to scuttle the Trust’s plans to redevelop the crumbling pier at West 13th Street.
Durst agreed to finance the City Club’s lawsuits after an environmental group backed out, a move that triggered a rivalry with Diller.
The pier project suffered a major setback in March, when a U.S. district court judge ruled that work had to stop because the Army Corps of Engineers had failed to properly consider the environmental impacts on protected fish and wildlife when it issued the original permits.
The Corps later issued a permit for a revised plan, prompting a threat of a new legal challenge.
“We continue to object to the secretive design process and cursory the environmental review done for this project,” Tom Fox, a plaintiff and a member of the City Club, said in a statement Wednesday. “We believe that the project is illegal and will be filing a new complaint seeking to stop it next week. The Trust has repeatedly asked us to consider settling out of court and we are willing to meet and how they might address our concerns.”
Recent conversations between the Durst Organization and city officials have focused on Pier 97 at 57th Street, which sits across from the landlord’s Helena and Via 57 West rental buildings.
Tenants at the Helena complained in 2015 about noise levels emanating from concerts at the pier. The concert series ended that year, but the pier is still home to public events like the Annual Blues BBQ scheduled for Aug. 19. [NYT] – Rich Bockmann