A plan to build a $250 million floating island on the Hudson River in Manhattan is alive.
IAC Chairman Barry Diller told Yahoo Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit Wednesday afternoon that the project, dubbed Pier55, is not dead. The project had been scrapped last month when Diller said he was pulling his commitment to the plan.
“We have a prospect of it continuing. There is imminent life there,” Diller told Serwer, declining to elaborate.
During Diller’s appearance at the summit, IAC issued a press statement on Pier55 where Diller said: “I’m going to make one last attempt to revive the plans to build the Park, so that the intended beneficiaries of our endeavor can fall in love with Pier55 in the way all of us have.”
A project plagued by ‘huge escalating costs’
The project called for a new performing arts center and a 2.4-acre park. It was backed by the Hudson River Park Trust, which operates and oversees the park, local community as well as local government officials (New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo).
But the project was quickly plagued by a number of lawsuits, which claim it did not go through the proper public review process and that it would endanger protected parkland. The suits were primarily led by the City Club of New York, a civic organization, and financed by prominent real estate developer Douglas Durst. The suits have since been settled.
Diller told The New York Times last month: “Because of the huge escalating costs and the fact it would have been a continuing controversy over the next three years I decided it was no longer viable for us to proceed.”
When the project was first conceived in 2011 its cost was pegged at $35 million. The litigation and its design inflated cost. According to the press statement, there are plans to reinstate agreements with the Hudson River Park Trust, state and federal agencies for the project.
Promise of no more litigation convinces Diller to move forward
According to Cuomo’s office, all parties involved in the earlier legal disputes against Pier55 have agreed to cease its efforts to stop the project.
“Given the change in circumstances, I have asked Mr. Diller to consider proceeding with the Pier55 project as his concept could be an important and lasting legacy,” Cuomo said in a press statement. “I know Mr. Diller’s intent was to create a space that would benefit future generations. I applaud his philanthropy and motives and believe the dream is still within his grasp.”
A founding member and counsel for the City Club confirmed that it would not oppose Pier55 in a statement.
The process to build Pier55 would have to start from the beginning: Agreements with the Hudson River Park Trust, state and federal agencies which had approved the project would have to be reinstated.
“The governor has informed me that the City Club litigation will not be pursued if I go forward, and that is an important factor and welcomed news,” Diller said in a statement. “So, I’m going to make one last attempt to revive the plans to build the park, so that the intended beneficiaries of our endeavor can fall in love with Pier55 in the way all of us have.”
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