Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced today that New York State has begun Phase 1 of the transformation of Pier 76 into new recreational space that will be ready to open to the public by June 1. The former New York City Police Department impound parking facility on Manhattan’s western shoreline will be renovated on an expedited schedule, preparing Pier 76 for its inclusion in Hudson River Park.
“COVID highlighted the importance of outdoor recreational spaces for New Yorkers, and it is critical that we expand open space as we continue to build back better,” Governor Cuomo said. “After more than 20 years of inaction, the transformation of Pier 76 will convert a blight on Manhattan’s western shore into a crown jewel for the Hudson River Park and create a beloved urban recreational space that will be enjoyed by all for generations to come.”
New York State recently took possession of Pier 76, located at West 38th Street & 12th Avenue, from New York City, which had used the 5.6-acre site and structure as a police department impound lot facility. The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has begun a partial demolition of the 245,000 square-foot impound facility at the pier and will create interim public recreation space to include a walking area and outdoor flexible space, as well as benches for people to relax and enjoy the waterfront views. The impound facility’s steel support structure will be temporarily left intact to create a unique setting and partial shade. The $20 million construction project, which also includes environmental abatement, repaving, and installation of railings and lighting, is expected to be complete by June 1.
Renewed plans for the transformation of Pier 76 were first proposed by Governor Cuomo as part of his 2020 State of the State agenda. In January, New York City transferred control of the tow pound over to New York State and vacated the site as mandated by a state budget agreement, paving the way for the transformation to begin.
The 1998 Hudson River Park Act required the city to transfer possession of the pier, at least half of which has to be used for passive and active open space, but that transfer was never completed. After more than 20 years of stalled plans, the beginning of Phase 1 of the transformation is the first step in turning this vision into a reality. Planning for the long-term use of Pier 76 will be done by the Hudson River Park Trust, a joint city-state partnership that is expected to lease the pier from State Parks. The trust manages Hudson River Park under long-term property leases with New York City or the state.
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “Pier 76 is going to be a wonderful resource for residents of Chelsea, Clinton and Midtown communities, who have been waiting patiently for this to happen. Pier 76 will join the other facilities of Hudson River Park as destinations for safe, healthy, and family-friendly outdoor recreation, with spectacular urban and waterfront views.”
Senator Brad Hoylman said, “New open space is a win for all the users of the Hudson River Park, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m glad to see the NYPD finally move off of Pier 76 after more than two decades and look forward to working with Community Board 4, my colleagues in government, the Hudson River Park Trust, and other local stakeholders in securing the long-term future of this pier for recreational and other important uses.”
Assembly Member Richard Gottfried said, “Governor Cuomo has ensured this project is finally being launched after many years of delay. I thank State Park for plans to have this open to the public by this summer. Pier 76 will be an important addition to Hudson River Park, and I will be working with my constituents and the Hudson River Park Trust to develop a permanent vision of what this place can become for the community.”
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner and Hudson River Park Trust Chair Basil Seggos said, “The incredible transformation of Pier 76 from a city impound lot into a world-class recreational resource will provide an oasis on Manhattan’s West Side for those who call Chelsea, Clinton, and Midtown home, as well as the millions of visitors drawn to the Hudson River Park each year. The much-anticipated addition of Pier 76 to the magnificent Hudson River Park will improve Manhattan’s western waterfront and connect countless New Yorkers to almost unlimited outdoor recreational opportunities on Manhattan’s spectacular riverfront.”
Hudson River Park Friends Executive Director Connie Fishman said, “Friends is excited to see the old tow pound at Pier 76 finally coming down. Anywhere that we can create new open space for New Yorkers, particularly now – during the pandemic – is a great benefit for all of us. The local neighborhoods will love having this new recreational opportunity to take advantage of with such a high demand right now for all our parks and open spaces, and this community has waited a very long time for this to happen.”
Pier 76 will provide open space in a community where the population continues to grow. According to U.S. Census figures, the population of Manhattan Community Districts 4 and 5, which includes Chelsea, Clinton and the adjoining Midtown Business District, has increased by 27 percent since 2000 to more than 167,000 residents.
Open space for city residents has been critical during the COVID-19 pandemic as visits to state parks and trails near the metropolitan region have surged.
Hudson River Park is a 550-acre riverfront park and estuarine sanctuary that runs from the northern boundary of Battery Park City in Tribeca, through Greenwich Village, the Meatpacking District, Chelsea, and Hudson Yards to West 59 St. in Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton, and includes more than a dozen piers once used for commercial shipping. The park includes bicycle and pedestrian paths, tennis and soccer fields, batting cages, children’s playground, dog run, and many other features.
Visited by an estimated 17 million people each year, Hudson River Park is the largest open space in Manhattan since the completion of Central Park. About 45 percent of visits are generated from outside of Manhattan, with nearly a third coming from non-state residents.
According to a 2020 study by Friends of Hudson River Park, some $720 million in investments to create the park between 2000 to 2015 have resulted in $1.1 billion in economic activity for New York City and $1.4 billion in economic activity for New York State, as well as creating more than 3,000 full- and part-time jobs.
More information on Hudson River Park can be found here. The economic study can be found here.
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 individual parks, historic sites, recreational trails and boat launches. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit parks.ny.gov, download the free NY State Parks Explorer mobile app or call 518-474-0456. Also, connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.