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The Other West Side Story

A new stadium isn’t the only waterfront boondoggle.


The battle over the Jets’ stadium has been so noisy that it’s easy to forget about the other West Side throw-down: over developing Pier 57. That’s the 700-foot-long bus depot turned convention-protester holding cell (“Gitmo on the Hudson”) off West 14th Street. Duking it out are President Bush’s buddy Roland Betts, master of the Chelsea Piers super-gym, which he wants to expand south, and a coalition of the Witcoff Group, Plaza Construction, and the Cipriani restaurant family, who want to set up a theme-parkish celebration of all things Italian. A group appointed by the mayor and governor should annoint a winner by the end of the month.

Chelsea Piers Extension
Basic idea: Expand the jock wonderland with nine rooftop tennis courts, squash, a 25-meter pool, plus kiddie pools.
Bonus features: Community roof garden, space for galleries and arts education, 40,000-square-foot dance center.
Or possibly: An electrical-power-generating facility, new studios for WNYC, FEMA emergency offices, a seafood restaurant.
The politics: Betts isn’t popular with some community groups, who feel bullied by his empire of sweat, so they’re backing Cipriani.
Neighborliness factor: We’re already used to the big brown barns of Chelsea Piers.

Leonardo at 57
Basic idea: Little Italy supercenter with restaurants, a 70,000-square-foot event space, and a branch of the Triennale di Milano design museum.
Bonus features: A DeLonghi appliance store with cooking classes, a rooftop park with a private pool and club, cheap artists’ studios.
Or possibly: Glass-blowing demonstrations, floating swimming-pool barge, Fashion Week HQ, and an overhead link to the High Line.
The politics: Politicos Jerrold Nadler and Richard Gottfried are backing it, but Betts and crew recently slammed Gottfried in a letter as “ill-informed, out-of-touch, and not credible.”
Neighborliness factor: The meatpacking district goes to sea.


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