After over a decade of debate, anticipation, and dashed dreams, the Lower East Side may finally be getting its answer to Chelsea Piers. The Sun's David Lombino reports that the City is clearing the Office of Managment and Budget out of Pier 36 just north of the Manhattan Bridge to make way for a Lower East Side Basketball City. Some community folks find the courts, which would occupy the 64,000 square foot warehouse, a bad fit for the neighborhood, but color us on board: anything's better than prime space like this being used for vehicle storage. (After the jump, an excerpt from the Sun piece with backstory dating back to the Dinkins era.)
· Basketball City About to Score OEM's Space on LES [NYSun, sub req'd]
· The 'Other' Waterfront Becomes a Contender [The Villager, 11/12/03]
· Basketball City is Becoming a Political Football [The Villager, 2/25/04]
Reports the Sun:
A spokesman for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, whose district encompasses the site, said the speaker supports Basketball City moving to Pier 36 because it fulfills the community's long-term goal of reclaiming the pier for recreational purposes. The spokesman, Bryan Franke, said Mr. Silver successfully sued Mayor Dinkins to free the pier of the burden of housing city vehicles and heavy machinery. Mr. Silver brokered a memorandum of understanding with the city that the pier eventually would be used for a community recreational facility. Under the Giuliani administration, an estimated 10 years ago, a request for proposals was issued and the use of the site was awarded to Basketball City.
Now the city's development agency is honoring that agreement and negotiating exclusively with Basketball City, although officials would not discuss the details of the talks, or say why it has taken so long to finalize the deal. Representatives of Basketball City did not return phone messages from a reporter.