Second section of High Line opens

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the Friends of the High Line co-founders, and actor and High Line board member and advocate Edward Norton gathered on the iconic steel trestle this morning for the official opening of the slightly narrower Section 2 of the High Line, running between 20th and 30th streets on the west side of Manhattan (see photos above).

The city took control of the 1.45 mile-long elevated High Line from CSX Transportation in 2005, previously a freight rail structure. The first section opened almost exactly two years ago and marked its 2 millionth visitor in April 2010, according to city data.

“Just as the transformation of the High Line is ongoing… so too is the transformation of the area around it,” Bloomberg said at the dedication ceremony. “Since work on the High Line began, we’ve seen the development of or planning for more than $2 billion in private investment, adding thousands of new residential units, thousands of new jobs, 1,000 new hotel rooms, and new restaurants, galleries and shops.”

He added: “The [economic] strategy is clearly working.”

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Bloomberg also announced that the Tiffany & Co. Foundation would be awarding a $5 million challenge grant to Friends of the Highline, founded in 1999, as part of a five-year $50 million capital campaign to launch the third section of the park.

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“We continue the foundation’s mission to help preserve and create the iconic open spaces that distinguish great urban centers,” said Michael Kowalski, CEO of Tiffany & Co., in a statement.

When The Real Deal caught up with Kowalski in the park, he said the company has no investments in the area that he knows of. “So much of Tiffany’s designs are inspired by nature,” he said. “We want to keep celebrating that.” He also pointed to other projects that the foundation has supported, including the Battery Park Conservancy and the land around the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles.

In a parking lot situated under the High Line at 30th Street, Miami art collective FriendsWithYou have created an art installation named “Rainbow City,” pictured above, an urban playground featuring colorful balloon sculptures. The installation will remain till July 5 when it will be transformed into a pop-up summer watering hole. The Related Companies and Abington Properties are set to break ground on a new residential tower on the site this fall.

As previously reported by The Real Deal, famed developer Sam Zell and Alf Naman are among those parlaying the success of the High Line into new developments with forthcoming condominiums at 500 West 23rd Street and 515 West 23rd Street, respectively. The Standard Hotel, a new Whitney Museum and several other condos are among other major projects bringing business to the area.

The remaining one-third of the High Line, still owned by CSX, wraps around the Hudson Rail Yards, between West 30th and West 34th streets. In 2010, the city completed the public land-use approval process to acquire this final section of the High Line, and is working with CSX and the underlying property owners on agreements to allow for public access to the High Line at the Rail Yards.