By Brian J. Pape, AIA, LEED-AP
On May 30, 2003, the first completed section of Hudson River Park (HRP), which began in 1999, was officially opened to the public in the West Greenwich Village portion from Pier 45 to Pier 51; and Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) is celebrating, even while it struggles to meet the completion and maintenance of the park structures.
Our readers may recall the news last October that in exchange for allowing the private Diller Island to be built, the State would provide funds to complete the 4.5-mile long HRPT, long delayed. Money talks.
Second only to the long delay to finish construction of the HRP is the delay in maintaining the corroding 3500 pilings of the 14-acre Pier 40.
In early 2013, the state passed a law that allowed the adjacent St. John’s developer to buy 250,000 SF of development transfer rights from HRPT for $100 million, thus providing funds to proceed with piling repairs. How air rights are calculated, and where they may be applied, is still uncertain.
Coming at the tail-end of the year-long repair of the pierhead wall north of Pier 40, repairs began this summer on the Pier 40 pilings. The contractors are working from a staging barge on the south side of Pier 40, with the fiberglass tubes and rebar cages ready for the underwater installation. The work doesn’t disturb the activities above.
According to Steven Ferker, HRPT’s chief engineer, the work will involve only the approximately 16-foot sections of each pile that are exposed to water and air. To seal the piles in concrete, a special water-resistant mix will be pumped in from the bottom of the fiberglass sleeve, displacing river water like liquid overflowing from a cup as it rises in the encasement.
Once restored, the pilings support the same hundreds of pounds of load as the originals did. It will probably take four years to complete, and cost $104 million. In the meantime, plans are moving forward to build a massive block of buildings with 1,500+ apartments where St. John Terminal, the ca. 1935 end of the former High Line RR, now stands. And they will be able to walk across the highway to Pier 40 to do things like play sports, park their cars, shop and eat at water-side restaurants; similar to Pier 26.