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City Council approves $100M transfer of Pier 40 air rights

Today’s vote greenlights the redevelopment of St. John’s Terminal

St. John’s Terminal
St. John’s Terminal takes up more than three blocks between West Houston and Spring streets.
Max Touhey For Curbed

The City Council has voted to approve the $100 million sale of Pier 40’s air rights to a consortium of developers who seek to remake the adjacent St. John’s Terminal into a large-scale mixed-use project with up to 1,500 apartments. The full City Council approval comes two weeks after the council’s Subcommittee on Zoning & Franchises voted to greenlight the transfer.

The council approval follows a years-long period of negotiation between developers Atlas Capital Group and Westbrook Partners along with City Council member Corey Johnson, who reps Manhattan District 2 where St. John’s Terminal stands. For many on the council, the approval was contingent on the affordability of the project’s housing component. For some council members, the amended area median income standards were not steep enough. Among the three council members who voted against the proposal—there was one abstention—Jumaane Williams voiced his disapproval of the transfer citing the city’s crucial need for deeper affordability.

Under the agreement passed by City Council, 30 percent of apartments in the development will be dedicated to low- and middle-income housing. Negotiations also saw the developers commit to lease to small-scale stores rather than big box shops, reduce parking on site, and bring in a grocery store. Council member Johnson also negotiated the future prohibition of air rights transfers from Hudson River Park into Manhattan District 2. Roughly $140 million of air rights remain in the area surrounding St. John’s Terminal.

“The mitigations, protections, and improvements in the proposed development make this deal on the whole a win for our neighborhood,” Greenwich Village Society For Historic Preservation director Andrew Berman said in a statement. The agreement comes on the heels of a Landmarks Preservation Commission decision to create a historic district slightly east of 550 Washington Street, putting immense scrutiny on any forthcoming development in the area.

Hudson River Park Trust will use the $100 million to make necessary upgrades to Pier 40, the structurally compromised multi-use community sports facility across the West Side Highway from St. John’s Terminal. “It doesn’t come a moment too soon,” HRPT chief Madelyn Wils told the Times of the decision and funding infusion.

The Times notes that momentum may be slow to build among the terminal’s redevelopment, noting that the developers may renovate the existing terminal for office space to wait out the post-boom lull in the market. Plans for the site, drawn up by COOKFOX, include building five mixed-use towers that might also include a hotel.

Pier 40

West Street and Houston Street, New York, NY 10012 Visit Website