Pier 40/St. John’s Deal, With All Neighborhood Protections, Approved!

This now-passed deal will prohibit the pictured type of air rights-enabled overdevelopmnent along our waterfront (r.), and will not exacerbate the traffic problems in the neighborhood (l.) the way the original plan would have.

This afternoon the City Council passed the Pier 40/St. John’s deal negotiated last week by City Councilmember Corey JohnsonThe deal included virtually all of the demands for neighborhood protections made by GVSHP and thousands of neighborhood residents who participated in the public review process!

This includes:

  • Landmark designation for the third and final phase of GVSHP’s proposed South Village Historic Districtdesignated Tuesday, protecting that nearby ten-block, 160 building low-rise historic area from inappropriate demolitions and increasing development pressure, which the St. John’s development could have contributed to. This designation was vigorously opposed by the Real Estate Board of New York.
  • A restriction on any future air rights transfers from the Hudson River Park within Community Board #2, 14th Street to Canal Street. Due to 2013 state legislation, approximately 1.5 million square feet of “air rights” from commercial piers within the Hudson River Park could be transferred inland to adjacent communities, vastly increasing development in our neighborhoods.  While allowing a one-time transfer of a small fraction of those air rights to the St. John’s site to pay for $100 million in repairs to that pier’s badly damaged playing fields and parking spaces, the deal prohibits any other transfers in this area in the future, thus protecting the Village’s westernmost blocks from a giant threat of overdevelopment which has loomed over it since the 2013 state legislation was passed. This provision was opposed by the Hudson River Park Trust.
  • Elimination of the planned ‘big box’ stores and oversized ‘destination retail’ which would have generated huge amounts of traffic. Instead, there will be a prohibition on any retail space exceeding 10,000 square feet, except a supermarket and publicly accessible recreation space.

This is a vastly improved deal, which will overall greatly benefit the neighborhood.  Thank you to all our members, supporters, and allies who wrote, testified, and rallied – you made this possible!  Special thanks to Community Board #2 for its leadership on this, and most especially to Councilmember Corey Johnson, who negotiated the deal, balancing many different interests and forcefully advocating for our concerns.

Under this deal, a very large new development will be built on the three-block St. John’s Terminal site, at West and Houston Streets. But without this deal a very large development could have and undoubtedly would have been built at this site anyway.
  Without this deal, such a development would have been 100% commercial (offices, hotel, event space, large retail) which would have been vastly more impactful than the approved largely residential development.  Without this deal, there would have been no height limits to new development on site, and a 600 ft. tall tower was proposed; under the deal, development is limited to about 450 ft. in height (still too large in our book). And without this deal, there would be no outdoor or indoor public space provided, no affordable housing (500 middle and lower income units, many reserved for seniors) and no money for repair of Pier 40 and its playing fields.

Read more in GVSHP’s Op-Ed in today’s Villager newspaper “Pier 40/St. John’s Deal Is a Win In So Many Ways.” For more background on this, read “The Pier 40/St. John’s Terminal/Hudson River Park Special District Plan:  What Is It?”.

December 15, 2016