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Pier 40 Air Rights Deal Could Mean Affordable Housing Nearby

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Another chapter has been added to the Pier 40 and St. John's Terminal saga today, as DNAinfo reports that developer Atlas Group met with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer to discuss the deflated, but not dead, $100 million air rights deal that will, if actualized, help revitalize the sorrowful, sinking Pier 40 and convert the adjacent St. John's Terminal into an enlarged mixed-use building with an affordable housing component. Albeit, the hush-hush meeting DNAinfo obtained notes from through a Freedom of Information Law request occurred in late September, it confirms that the deal is not dead in the water (like Pier 40 will be in about two years time if it continues to sink, unfettered).

Atlas Group presented Brewer with their plans to develop the St. John's Terminal building at 550 Washington Street into a residential building with affordable housing, of course not facing the river, and retail. Atlas says 450,000 square feet will be committed to residential space while 100,000 square feet will be dedicated to retail. Inclusions in the development for the community's benefit have not been specified, but a library, transportation, community space, or a school were all discussed in the closed-door meeting. The redevelopment of St. John's Terminal can be made possible through Atlas Group's $100 million acquisition of 250,000-square-feet of air rights from Pier 40, which will grant the pier the funds to make necessary structural improvements.

According to the obtained notes, the project, if it moves forward, will be built out in phases, the first of which will include 110,000 square feet of affordable housing and kick off in 2016, with market rate condos and commercial space or a hotel following in phase two, which likely will occur within the next five years or as late as 2026, when occupying renters Bloomberg LP's lease expires. If the plan actually goes through, Atlas hopes to begin the public land review procedure (ULURP) in the beginning of 2015.

The developer's earlier, similar plan fell apart after a secretive Memorandum of Understanding, necessitating a state-run General Project Plan that doesn't require public review, was chastised as too private of a procedure by a number of elected officials including Congressman Jerry Nadler, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, State Senator Brad Hoylman, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Councilmember Corey Johnson, and Brewer herself. The uproar killed the MOU, but it seems to have left the air rights deal in place.
· Notes Reveal What a Developer Wants to Do With Pier 40's Air Rights [DNAinfo]
· Pier 40's Secret $100 Million Air Rights Memorandum Is Dead [Curbed]
· All Pier 40 / St. John's Terminal coverage [Curbed]