By George Capsis
“Offices would be something that would generate revenue,” offered Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) Director, Madelyn Wils in talking about what to do with the sprawling 15-acre, but decaying, Pier 40 at West Houston Street.
After two abortive and very expensive (to the developers) Requests For Proposals, the HRPT “committee” rejection precludes doing another (I mean, nobody will spend money on a big fat proposal if it doesn’t get picked). Now, the only revenue is coming from parking cars. However, the rain leaks between the reinforced concrete slabs that form the roof and deposit lime on the cars; it is only a matter of time before the corrosion of the 3,500 steel piles will cause a section of the Pier to sway and go plop into the Hudson.
So, it was with relief, I am sure, that the, at first, secret deal to sell the $100 million “air rights” of Pier 40 to a developer has been approved. (I have never heard of selling air rights to a pier. With land costs being what they are, developers will build piers all over the place just to sell the air rights.)
But when Madelyn Wils talks about building office space, she is talking about building that space on the gray, decaying 1952 Pier 40 which is where she has her office. (When she found her roof leaking, they spent millions to fix it. It would have been cheaper to move to the Municipal Building.)
Now, they are getting a check for $100 million from the real estate developers, which will go towards encasing the corroding steel piles in concrete jackets. But where do we get the money to build offices that HRPT can then rent out for the revenue that will pay to pick up Park trash and pay Madelyn’s salary?
Attorney, Democratic leader, and now continuing activist Arthur Schwartz has the answer—rent the 900-foot-long north section of Pier 40 to a hospital. A hospital would generate a lot more revenue than office space and a hospital is something that can attract huge cash gifts—witness the $200 million from Kenneth Langone to NYU.
But there might be another source of revenue to build this new hospital—some of the $500 million that Mount Sinai will earn when it sells Beth Israel.
But we should not let this be Mount Sinai’s hospital or Northwell’s, or the City’s. It should be our hospital because the chances that we, or those near us, must use it are very high, especially as we get older.
But, to make this our hospital, we have to speak out. Our politicians have fought very successfully to get hundreds of affordable apartments on the St. John’s site and now we must ask their help to build a hospital on Pier 40.
As Dr. David Kaufman says, it must be a Trauma I, 300-bed full-service hospital. Would you email the good doctor at firstname.lastname@example.org and say yes Doctor Kaufman, and then yes Corey Johnson and yes Dick Gottfried and yes Deborah Glick, and yes Chuck Schumer—we need our hospital again.