Governors Island could become a major hub for the city’s efforts to fight climate change under a proposal for a new, 4.2 million-square-foot mixed-use development.
The Trust for Governors Island, the nonprofit that manages the island, unveiled the wide-ranging plan this week which includes the development of office space, hotels and dormitories. The proposal calls for taking over 33 acres on the island’s southern end that were designated for future construction under a 2010 master plan for the park.
If realized, the center would serve as a space for climate change experts — researchers, students, and more — to gather and conduct research, ideally under the banner of one anchor institution. That could lead to the development of more commercial space, as well as provide opportunities for the public to learn more about climate and environmental issues.
The trust says it could create as many as 8,000 jobs and inject $1 billion into New York City’s economy.
But the proposal’s success hinges on a planned rezoning of Governors Island, which would allow for a variety of building types, including offices, dorms and hotels. The rezoning process began more than two years ago but hasn’t made much progress since. Opponents of the rezoning also worry that the changes will take away from the island’s character.
In 2019, Michael Samuelian, the then-president of the Trust, was pushed out of his role by former deputy mayor Alicia Glen, who heads up its board.
In recent years, Governors Island has quietly become one of the city’s most popular summer destinations, even though access to the island is limited to ferries from Manhattan and Brooklyn. Year-round tenants of the island include the New York Harbor School, the Billion Oyster Project and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s newly expanded Arts Center at Governors Island.
In a press release announcing the climate center plans, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is proud to “continue the growth of Governors Island as a resource to fight climate change, create jobs, and showcase the city’s worldwide research and scientific talent.”