The Real Deal New York

Pier 55 is stayin’ alive: Barry Diller’s fantasy island returns

Cuomo brokers deal to revive project Diller gave up on in September
By Eddie Small | October 25, 2017 04:55PM

From left: Douglas Durst, a rendering of Pier 55, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Barry Diller (Credit: Getty Images and Pier55/Heatherwick Studio)

Barry Diller’s Pier 55 is back from the dead, just in time for Halloween.

In a surprise announcement on Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he had brokered a deal between Diller and the park’s opponents, led by Douglas Durst, whose involvement in litigation had caused Diller to abandon his pet project in September.

Under the deal, Diller will resume his efforts to build Pier 55, the litigation against the park will not move forward, and Cuomo will agree to complete Hudson River Park, which runs from Battery Park City to 59th Street, and not allow development at the marine estuary. Cuomo said he hopes the park will be completed by the end of his presumed third term.

“We have had productive conversations,” the governor said in a statement, “and it has been agreed that the legal dispute commenced by the City Club will cease, Pier 55 will go forward, and we will work cooperatively to complete the full vision for the Park.”

Diller said he was giving up on the project last month following years of legal fighting and roughly $40 million of pre-construction costs. The billionaire head of IAC Corp. said he became particularly disenchanted with the project in the spring after a judge ruled that work on the park needed to stop because the Army Corps of Engineers did not view the site as a protected fish and wildlife sanctuary when issuing its permit. Durst admitted to being behind the litigation against the park this spring.

However, in a statement from Durst released by the governor’s office, the developer said his goal “has always been the completion of the park” and that today’s agreement was “a major step in that direction.”

Diller released a statement through Cuomo’s office as well, saying that he would “make one last attempt to revive the plans to build the park.” However, he cautioned that he would first need to reinstate agreements with the Hudson River Park Trust, contractors, and state and federal agencies.

“And we’ll need to know that the plaintiffs will not reinstate their litigation,” he said. “And with all that, we’ll joyfully proceed.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio, a frequent target of Cuomo’s, had unsuccessfully tried to persuade Durst to end his legal challenges against the park over the summer.