Thursday, June 28, 2012

Friends of Hudson River Park's Improvement District Funding Scheme Rears Its Ugly Head Again

Pay-To-Play. Prominent real estate developer Douglas Durst and the non-profit he runs, Friends of Hudson River Park (FHRP) want area residents and businesses to pay a special tax to pay Hudson River Park's upkeep instead of the City and State allocating funds. Last week NY State legislators refused to introduce a bill which would have allocated $15 million in emergency funds and approximately $7 million annually from cruise ships and water taxi fees. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on image to enlarge.

The tax proponents hope to generate $10 million annually from the funding scheme. The Park Improvement Area (PID) area could include 1,700 properties.

A similar Park Improvement District (PID) proposal supported by Mayor Bloomberg to pay for maintenance and operation (M&O) of the High Line esplanade in Manhattan was quickly scrapped after strong public criticism emerged. A similar scheme to fund Brooklyn Bridge Park was also not warmly received.

Mr. Durst is on the Board of Directors of the Bryant Park Corporation BID. His building, One Bryant Park, generates $150,000 of the BID's gross annual revenue. Bryant Park is a public park which the city allows to be run privately.

Dedicated funding streams from non-government sources create enormous disparities.

Durst is a director of the Real Estate Board of New York, The Trust for Public Land, and Project for Public Spaces. He is also the co-chair of Friends of the Hudson River Park. Durst Fetner Residential (DFR) hopes to begin building West 57, a 600-unit building on across the street from the park in 2012, and boasts, "courtyard open views towards the Hudson River." Mr. Durst's distinctive bright yellow New York Water Taxi fleet are a familiar sight along the park.

- Geoffrey Croft

Pier 40. Hudson River Park was never required to be self-sustaining according to the original law that established the park. Despite the fact that the park has generated billions of dollars in revunue for the city and state, they refuse to allocate the proper resources to maintain the park.


The Clinton/Hell's Kitchen Land Use Committee met last night to hear a presentation from the Friends of Hudson River Park, according to Curbed.

The gist: Hudson River Park needs a lot of money. Not that this is news or anything. The proposed Business Improvement District (BID) or, as it's now being called, Neighborhood Improvement District is, apparently, the largest-scale BID (or NID) ever proposed, and would tax residential properties 7.5 cents per square foot (median assessment: $99) and commercial properties 15 cents per square foot ($499) in order to raise a Total Amended First Year Budget of $10, 000, 000, which is around one tenth of what the park actually needs for day-to-day operations/development/integrating the park with the community/other things. And once the park is finished (it's currently at 70%) it will be generating more money from its commercial entities except maybe it won't and maybe those entities will even lose money because who knows? Not us. Confused yet? So were we.

Committee Member: So it’s unclear what the incremental increase in the operating revenue of the commercial entities will be once the park is complete.

Second Committee Member: It’s actually a little bit more complicated than that.

This is how the sausage gets made, people! Really confusingly. And expensively. It's like a one hundred million dollar sausage or something. This is a strategy that has already failed to come to fruition for the High Line and Brooklyn Bridge Park. It certainly seems like a desperation move, but then again, that's more or less what it is. And who knows—it could even end up working out. Maybe? Crazier things have happened. The BID is currently in the "Outreach Phase" and, if everything goes according to plan, will be voted on early next year.

Read More:

Hudson River Park Needs Money, Is Asking The People
Curbed - June 14, 2012 - By Jeremiah Budin

A Walk In The Park - March 17, 2011

A Walk In The Park - June 20, 2012

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