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Futuristic Floating Pier55 Park Moves Toward Reality

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Plans for an undulating, Avatar-esque floating park in the Hudson River are zipping right along. Since the design for Pier55, a Heatherwick Studio-designed green space funded largely by billionaire Barry Diller, were revealed in November, the ambitious project won approval from the local community board, and now the Times reports that a 20-year lease deal has been made with Hudson River Park Trust. The agreement makes official Diller's commitment to running the pier, to which he and his wife, Diane von Furstenberg, pledged $113 million. The city will make us the rest of the $130 million cost.

Given that Hudson River Park has struggled financially (see: Pier 40), residents in the area worry what will happen 20 years in the future, after Diller's lease ends. But Hudson River Park Trust isn't that concerned about it. President Madelyn Wils told the Times that they have "all the protections we need to make sure the project is financed." In addition to normal park things like paths and landscaping, Pier55 will have a 700-seat amphitheater that will be rented out for cultural events.

Other concerns are environmental and could prove to be a challenge for the project, as the Army Corps of Engineers and the State Department of Environmental Conservation still need to approve the plans. The pier will built near 13th Street beside the crumbling Pier 54, which will be demolished. Three hundred concrete columns will be drilled into the riverbed for Pier55, and the new structure will jut 186 feet over the river. Environmentalists want a full environmental impact statement to examine how the pier will affect "an undisturbed area of the river that is a designated estuarine sanctuary."

Again, Wils doesn't think this is a problem, as the Trust completed a 200-page environmental assessment form, but this has less requirements than a full EIS, so the group Riverkeeper is pushing for more.

If the Trust nabs timely approvals from the Army Corps and DEC, construction should being in 2016.
· Lease Deal for Pier 55 Park in Hudson River Is Approved [NYT]
· Village Residents Express Skepticism Over Futuristic Pier55 [Curbed]
· All Pier55 coverage [Curbed]