By Arthur Z. Schwartz
Folks who follow Pier 40 doings may remember a few years back when there was great noise and cheering for the sale of air rights from Pier 40 to the new owners of the St. John’s Terminal, a gigantic multi-block commercial office space running from Spring Street to Clarkson Street opposite Pier 40. The Hudson River Park Trust got legislative permission to sell those air rights in return for $100,000,000 paid to fix Pier 40, and a promise to build 1500 apartments, a third of which would be “affordable,” and 300 of which would be reserved for “seniors.” Having affordable housing built in the Village was a big victory. We live in one of the most expensive places in America. And we live in a community which may be the least diverse in America; 2% of those who live in Community Board 2 are Black or Hispanic. Corey Johnson, then our new City Council Member, did a victory dance at the press conference.
Then, on July 10th, we learned that plans had irrevocably been changed. Google is going to rent one million square feet at the St. John’s Building—the entire building! No housing. No seniors. Just offices for Google. In a building now expanded with what was publicly owned air rights.
We heard not a whimper from Corey Johnson (who wants to be Mayor). Or our “retired” (she gets a pension) Assembly Member Deborah Glick. While everyone was focused on efforts to turn Pier 40 into an office complex, our neighborhood just got more exclusive, with well-paid techies from Google flooding the local housing market.
This one goes down in our local Hall of Shame!
Arthur Z. Schwartz is the Democratic District Leader for Greenwich Village, and was a founder of Friends of Hudson River Park.