1. What is Pier 40 and where is it?
Built in 1962, Pier 40, at more than 15 acres, is the largest pier in Hudson River Park. It can be found jutting into the Hudson River at West Houston Street and the West Side Highway. You may recognize it as the large ‘square donut’ building with the ball fields in the middle & the parking lot inside.
2. How is Pier 40 currently used?
PLAY: Tens of thousands of children and adults play ball at Pier 40 as part of organized sports leagues. Aside from sports fields, it houses a trapeze school, a boating program, a river education project and youth sports organizations.
WORK: Pier 40 is also the location of the Hudson River Park Trust’s main offices, which operates, maintains, and manages the entire 4-mile park from Chambers St. to 59th Street.
About 75% of the million square foot structure is currently used as a parking garage for nearly 2,000 automobiles, and for dinner cruise vessels that dock on the north side of the pier.
3. Why do we care about rebuilding Pier 40?
The Park inherited a building that is in dreadful condition and is falling apart. The building is also an eyesore; it blocks river views for three blocks and blocks access to the river. Parts of Pier 40 have been shut down because of the leaky roof, aging infrastructure, and inadequate building systems. Pier 40’s constant need for repairs is draining the Park’s maintenance funds. We have a great opportunity to rebuild Pier 40 in way that benefits the community and supports the Park!
4. Can we create new ball fields at Pier 40 to accommodate the heavy demand?
Yes! Not only will we be able to create better, state-of-the-art ball fields, but we can increase the number and provide more opportunity for the growing demand for both organized sports leagues and recreational open space. We’ll achieve this if we can figure out a realistic long-term solution for the pier that balances the needs of the community and the needs of the park.
5. Would a renovated Pier 40 provide additional waterfront access?
6. Why can’t the Park just fix up the Pier 40 building?
The Park has spent more than $45 million in the past 8 years on Pier 40 to make essential repairs for safety. That has barely made a dent in the building’s poor condition. Using Park money on Pier 40 repairs has slowed construction of other sections of Hudson River Park. The Park needs to find a responsible private partner, who can redevelop the building and pay stable, long-term rent. Fixing up Pier 40 in its current configuration would do nothing to address the fact that it blocks the waterfront for 800 feet and doesn’t improve or expand the sports fields, or the park, or public access to the water, or the views from the neighborhood.
7. Why can’t Pier 40 just be a park with no commercial uses?
Hudson River Park exists because state legislators, environmental advocates, and local residents worked together 20 years ago to pass the Hudson River Park Act. The Act says that the Park should be financially self-sufficient and not a traditional City or State park.
8. Why can’t government fix the building?
State and City funds are used to build new sections of the park not to repair or rebuild the commercial piers. The law that created the Park designates specific commercial areas – including Pier 40 – as piers that generate rental income to maintain and operate the Park.
9. Why is rebuilding Pier 40 essential to completing Hudson River Park?
Hudson River Park is not a City Park, so the government and the taxpayers do not pay for its maintenance or operation. The Park instead relies on a few areas of income generation, identified in the 1998 state law (Hudson River Park Act) that created the park. According to the Act, Pier 40 is intended to provide income that will be used for operations and maintenance of the entire 4-mile Park, while also providing much needed park space on at least half of the pier. Pier 40 is the only commercial pier in the southern section of the Park and without its financial contribution the whole Park will suffer.
10. What changes should be made to the Hudson River Park Act?
The Act restricts uses and lease terms at the piers where commercial development is allowed. The restrictions on Pier 40 are more limited than at all the other commercial piers. Pier 40 requires a longer lease term and more flexible uses – like offices – to achieve the goals of creating more open space, more ball fields, and better access to the waterfront. The Park has twice attempted to rehabilitate Pier 40 but the current legal restrictions prevented viable proposals from going forward.
11. Why should office space be allowed at Pier 40?
The Act already allows entertainment, retail, catering and events, schools and commercial recreation. Past proposals for entertainment and retail have been rejected by the community as having too many negative impacts. Adding offices will provide more flexibility for creating a successful project. Low impact office space can generate a steady stream of rent for the park with a use that is less intrusive to the community and surrounding park. More restrictions equal fewer good options. That is why we want to amend the Act to allow office space.Click here for more information.
12. Why is a longer lease necessary for Pier 40 to thrive?
To develop an expensive project – like rebuilding Pier 40 – a developer needs to obtain loans that must be repaid. A stable tenant needs to generate enough income to repay the loan and make a profit. Otherwise no one will be willing to invest in the project. In addition, the many new public amenities such as more ball fields, more access to the water, new space for the community to use and new green space for the Park will add to the cost of the project and take a longer time to generate a return. A long lease, such as 99 years, is the best option for a successful community-sensitive renovation. Again, the Act must be amended to get better options.
Another commercial pier – Pier 57 – in Hudson River Park is already allowed to have a longer lease and more flexibility, like offices. This has allowed it to be redeveloped for modern uses that the community supports. Pier 40 needs to be treated the same!
13. Didn’t Pier 40 just get $100 million to be rebuilt?
No. The $100 million is just to repair the underwater piles that support Pier 40. Redevelopment or renovation of the Pier building itself is not funded. The $100 million investment by the Trust into the piles helps support the private investment that is needed to rebuild the pier building. This could be very expensive and allowing office space can make it easier to find a private investor.
14. What if the law governing Pier 40 isn’t amended?
If Pier 40 isn’t redeveloped, the Park will have to continue spending a lot of money just to keep it from crumbling further – money that could be better spent on many other public improvements up and down the Park. Not only would it prevent Pier 40 from being fixed and supporting Hudson River Park overall, but it would jeopardize the overall health of Hudson River Park and could delay future new park construction.
15. Why is a huge parking garage allowed in the Park at Pier 40?
Before the creation of Hudson River Park, Pier 40 was turned into a giant parking lot by its former owners. Cars parked at Pier 40 have some of the best views of the Hudson River Park and the river! Now that there is a beautiful park along the Hudson, parking on the waterfront is no longer considered a desirable use.
16. What will happen to the parking lot at Pier 40 if it’s rebuilt?
Car parking will continue to be allowed by the HRPK Act if Pier 40 is rebuilt or redeveloped. Depending on the proposal/s selected in a future RFP/RFQ, it is expected that some passenger vehicle parking would remain.
News Articles About Pier 40
- “On the far West Side of Manhattan, down near Houston Street, sit two big blocky structures, partners in decrepitude. One is Pier 40, the largest of […]
- “The trust plans to engage with local elected officials and the community in the coming months as the initial steps in a process to potentially redevelop […]
- The Hudson River Park Trust is making headway on its renovation plan for Downtowners’ sports haven, Pier 40.
- Local politicians are taking another swing at Pier 40, the Lower West Side’s youth baseball and soccer mecca.