State funding for Hudson River Park requires $50M from city

Cuomo had touted that the state would finish park

Diller Island and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Credit: Pier55 Inc. and Getty Images)
Diller Island and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Credit: Pier55 Inc. and Getty Images)

The state approved $50 million to complete the long-delayed Hudson River Park, and on Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on the city to match the investment.

The infusion of funding would go toward completing the northern end of the park, which runs from Battery Park City to West 59th Street.

Though the financing isn’t specifically for Pier 55 — the proposed 2.7-acre floating public park and performance space also known as “Diller Island” — it’s indirectly related. The City Club of New York had filed a suit, backed by developer Douglas Durst, to block the redevelopment, but had also called for the completion and renovation of other parts of Hudson River Park. That includes Pier 97, which is located near three Durst Organization-owned towers. If this new funding were to collapse, it would presumably jeopardize a deal brokered by the state to stop fighting over Pier 55.

That doesn’t seem to be a danger, at least for now.

“We are happy to work in consultation with the state, and we have agreed to match the funding for this park,” said Melissa Grace, a spokesperson for the mayor. She noted that the mayor has publicly said as much prior to the governor’s assertion that the city “must approve $50 million” for the project.

In order to secure the funding, the city must agree to pay $50 million, according to the state’s $168.3 billion budget. Representatives for the Hudson River Park Trust declined to comment. Connie Fishman, executive director of the Hudson River Park Friends, which backs the trust, noted in a statement that this year will mark the park’s 20th anniversary. “Now is the perfect time for the state and the city to come together to finish it,” she said.

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Michael Gruen, president of the City Club of New York, said he hadn’t yet seen the specific language in the budget, but didn’t seem thrilled about its phrasing.

“I would say that we went into this with the understanding that there was a commitment from the governor that the park would be built out as originally planned,” he said. “I think a budget provision that says it’s conditioned on funding coming from another source could be viewed as inconsistent with our original understanding.”

During an event held by the Association for a Better New York, Cuomo noted that “minor disruptions” among developers delayed the project — a euphemistic reference to the feud between billionaire Barry Diller and Durst, which threatened to derail the floating park and performance space called Pier 55.

Diller had abandoned the project in September, citing “huge escalating costs” and “ongoing controversy” surrounding the development, the cost of which had ballooned from $35 million to $250 million. But the following month, the governor announced that he had facilitated a deal between Diller and the park’s opponents. Details of the agreement haven’t been made public.

“Pier 55 is proceeding with construction and no state funds are being used to build the park,” Diller said in a statement.

Cuomo’s call for the city to step up and match the state’s funding was just one of several recent shots the governor has aimed at the de Blasio administration. The mayor and governor have swapped criticisms over who’s at fault for the state of the Metropolitan Transit Authority and New York City Housing Authority.