Related drops 700-foot-long “wall” from Hudson Yards plan

Political opposition kills ill-conceived idea in its infancy

New York /
Jan.January 15, 2020 02:37 PM
Related Chairman Stephen Ross (Credit: Getty Images, Wikipedia)

Related Chairman Stephen Ross (Credit: Getty Images, Wikipedia)

The writing was on the wall.

The Related Companies said Wednesday it would not build what critics had derisively deemed a wall next to the High Line at its Hudson Yards development.

The announcement, made in a Twitter post and first reported by Crain’s, came five days after several powerful politicians blasted the idea in a New York Times piece penned by architecture critic Michael Kimmelman.

“There has never been a wall along the High Line and there will never be a wall,” @_HudsonYardsNYC tweeted.

But it was clear from the moment the Times story was published that Related would not get permission to build a 700-foot-long structure separating the High Line along 12th Avenue from the public green space just east of it. Here’s why.

The second phase of Hudson Yards requires approval from the city planning commissioner, a mayoral appointee. And although Mayor Bill de Blasio was not among the elected officials to excoriate Related for considering the wall, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Manhattan state Sen. Brad Hoylman, and High Line executive director Robert Hammond all did.

The mayor has long been cool on Hudson Yards and had no reason to fight fellow Democrats on behalf of Related Chairman Stephen Ross, who held a fundraiser in August for another would-be wall builder, President Donald Trump. (This week a de Blasio spokesperson called Trump a “con artist” in defending the mayor’s decision to refer a tax probe of the Trump Organization to prosecutors for criminal investigation.)

The wall plan stemmed from design challenges Related is facing as it plans green space above and potentially a parking garage below the deck that covers the active rail yard.

“We have always shared the vision that the Western Yard should include a great public open space,” the company said in a series of four tweets Wednesday. “We don’t yet have a final design but have always understood clearly that our open space needs to work well with the High Line and the Hudson River.”

In the second tweet, it continued, “Unfortunately, there currently appears to be a lot of misinformation in the public domain, which is disheartening.”

The tweets concluded, “By working closely with the railroad to meet ventilation requirements, and by continuing to collaborate, we are confident we will create the space that will make future generations proud.” [Crain’s] — Erik Engquist


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