Bloomberg, state officials agree on U.N. land deal to fund missing portion of greenway


Rendering and map of Manhattan Greenway plan

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the heads of the State Assembly and State
Senate have agreed on a memorandum of understanding that will provide
the financing framework to close the gap in the Manhattan Greenway on
the East Side of Manhattan through a land deal with the United Nations, according to a statement released by Bloomberg this afternoon.The deal involves the sale of a portion of Robert
Moses Playground to the U.N. for construction of a new
building.

The complicated land deal was first put into motion by legislation
signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in July, but the city and state
government leaders still had to come to an agreement on details by
Oct. 10. Since then, city and state officials have been holding public
forums
about the plans, where they have addressed concerns from
residents about the height of the new U.N. building and the loss of
the playground space.

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Under the plan, the western portion of Robert Moses Playground,
located between 41st and 42nd streets on First Avenue
adjacent to the United Nations’ existing campus, would be transferred to
the United Nations Development Corporation by the city. If the U.N.
moves forward, the United Nations Development Corporation would make payments
totaling $73 million to a special purpose fund, the Eastside Greenway
and Park Fund, to purchase the site. Those funds would allow the city
to realize its long-term plan to close the gap in the Manhattan
Greenway between 38th and 60th streets. The project is slated to increase the
overall open space in the area by 130,000 square feet, which is four
times the size of the transferred portion of Robert Moses Playground,
according to the statement.

The U.N. project would be the only potential source of
capital funding for the Greenway and could result in over $200 million
of open space improvements, including a mile of waterfront esplanade,
the statement says. The esplanade will give this neighborhood
access to the waterfront for the first time in more than half a
century and add much-needed open space to Manhattan’s East Side, which
has the lowest ratio of parkland to residents and workers in the city,
Bloomberg said in the statement.

According to the statement, the esplanade would be built in three
stages: infrastructure work on the segment from 38th to 41st streets,
previously occupied by Consolidated Edison, would begin shortly; construction
of the segment from 53rd to 60th streets would likely begin in 2016
and the segment from 41st to 51st streets likely around 2020. In
addition, if the U.N. moves forward, 1 and 2 UN Plaza,
in which the city has an economic interest, would be sold or
refinanced generating proceeds for the city and the Manhattan
Greenway.

“For decades, residents along New York City’s waterfront have been cut
off from this precious resource,” Bloomberg said. “Today’s agreement puts in place a critical missing link — the last major gap in the Manhattan Greenway — that will make the waterfront a resource for the whole city to enjoy. We are honored to be home to the
United Nations — one of the city’s largest employers — and this
win-win deal allows them to grow, thrive and create more jobs.” — Miranda Neubauer

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