It Happened This Week: Striking BackHillary Clinton hit Barack Obama on Reverend Jeremiah Wright even as critics slammed her for fibbing about Bosnian sniper fire, Sean Combs smacked down rumors that he was involved with Tupac’s shooting, and other events of the week that was.
Hudson Yards Development: Guaranteed GreenYou may have seen a bunch of renderings of potential designs for the land above the Hudson Yards in this morning’s papers. But as one of the teams’ lead architects pointed out to us, “The challenge is, your eye immediately goes to the buildings, but it’s unlikely any of the buildings are going to look like this. That’s the challenge to the MTA, to boil down fundamental issues for the public.” So instead, we’re giving you one of the images that probably will find its way into reality if its team is selected — one for the long, narrow green space looking eastward from the Durst/Vornado proposal. That might just be the glass arc over the proposed Moynihan Station that you see in the distance. But meanwhile, what is Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling doing in the foreground on the right? —Alec Appelbaum
Related: The Next ‘West’ Thing [NYP]
Five Companies Bid to Remake Six Blocks of Hudson Yards Area [NYDN]
Fishing in the Gowanus Canal: Yeah, They Do It. What?Astoria: Boy, Pete Hamill’s writer bro Dennis sure loves the park here. Perhaps just a few hundred words more than necessary? [NYDN via Queens Crap]
Bushwick: Horny gay gentrifiers, listen up. That hot local papi you just took home may agree to tie you up … but only to steal your Gucci watch. [NYP via BushwickBK]
Gowanus: They’re fishing bluefish out of the toxic Gowanus Canal … and eating them! Ew, that’s just naasty! [Gowanus Lounge]
Mayor’s Gal Gets a New GigDiana Taylor, Mayor Bloomberg’s girlfriend, just snagged herself a new government job: Governor Spitzer announced her appointment today as head of the Hudson River Park Trust, the state entity in charge of converting land along the West Side Highway into a paradise of playgrounds and boat launches and bike paths. After a career in finance, Taylor joined the governor’s office in the Pataki administration. In 2003, he appointed her New York State’s superintendent of banks, a position she held until February, when she stepped down to join a private investment firm. Her new post will be about as hard as any we can imagine: The trust is regularly lambasted from all sides. Everyone from powerful developers like Times Square landlord Doug Durst to the aging hippies who run the free-kayak program routinely fault it for either regulating too heavily or moving too lethargically. Even worse, when a developer is selected for the MTA’s Hudson Yards site, which should happen this fall, a whole new tangle of questions will arise about access and development rights. A relocation to Washington, D.C., might start to seem like a good exit strategy. —Alec Appelbaum
What’s That Shiny Building, and What Have They Done With Our Bus Station?
When Governor Spitzer held a press conference Friday to announce the state was opening bidding for the 12-million-square-foot Hudson Yards site, he mentioned another bit of redevelopment in the works for the West Side: an imminent overhaul of the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Which promptly sent us scurrying to the Port Authority’s Website, looking for details. We turned up these renderings and these optimistic stats: Apparently they’re planning 55,000 square feet of spiffed-up stores, 26 new bus gates, and a bright office tower on top. Even if the building doesn’t look too architecturally interesting, it’s still nice to imagine a presentable depot. Just don’t count on it anytime soon; feasibility studies will be ongoing till 2009. —Alec Appelbaum
Earlier: You Wanna Buy a Rail Yard?
in other news
You Wanna Buy a Rail Yard?
So, once again: Any takers for the West Side rail yards? You know, the 26 acres of relative wasteland along Eleventh Avenue, from 30th to 33rd Street? The state and the yards’ current owner, the MTA, formally announced today that it will be accepting bids for the whole shebang. The part of the offering that City Hall will like: twelve acres of greenery and a “cultural center.” The part the developers will like: residential “skyscrapers up to 70 stories tall.” The usual suspects are expected to come a-courting: Tishman Speyer, Brookfield, the Durst Organization, and Vornado (the last two working in concert). And the part that we find immensely curious: The buyers will be required to submit separate bids “with” and “without” the High Line, a stretch of which grazes the yards. Which means, in essence, that nobody — least of all the sellers — has any idea whatsoever how that one will play out.
Bids to Be Sought for West Side Railyards [NYT]
How to Succeed in Hudson Yards Without Really TryingDoes the developer who wants to tear down the High Line above 30th Street have an inside track on getting the Hudson Yards contract? Sources who ought to know tell us that the Durst Organization, which complained last week that preserving the High Line would cost $117 million, has hired the architecture firm of FXFowle to prepare its Hudson Yards bid. Coincidentally (we’re sure), FXFowle is the same firm that prepared the architectural protocol for the project on behalf of the MTA and the Hudson Yards Development Corp., a city-created overseer. The MTA claims it wants to keep the High Line, provided it understands the costs and revenues involved. But it will take quite a bid by another developer to dispel the notion that Durst has already seen the answer sheet. Alec Appelbaum
the morning line
Calling All Magnates
• There it is, people, your shot at the history books: Anyone want to build the equivalent of “five Empire State Buildings”? That’s what the Bloomberg administration wants to see over Hudson Yards as it opens the 26-acre, billion-dollar lot — the largest in Manhattan — to developer bids. [NYT]
• Yet another previously unknown 9/11 victim was identified Wednesday by pulling DNA off a bone fragment. In all, nine more names have been put to the scant remains in the last two months. [amNY]
• The Long Island slavery case is getting progressively more nauseating: Now the millionaire couple’s four children (including an ‘06 Parsons grad) are also eyed as potential contributors to the imprisonment and systematic torture of two Indonesian women. [NYP]
• Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is bringing a Spitzer-style lawsuit to computer makers Dell. The company allegedly defrauds its New York customers by touting services that never materialize and hiding 29-percent rates in their “no interest” offers. Dude, not cool. [WNBC]
• And, it’s a busy day for police surveillance: Not only do newly released files show the NYPD spying on peace activists, hip-hoppers, bloggers and one city councilman in the run-up to the ‘04 GOP convention, but a police captain was caught on an, uh, extracurricular stakeout: drunkenly videotaping a couple in a motel Jacuzzi. [NYDN]
No High Line in Redeveloped Hudson Yards? MTA Promises Public Will Have Last Word
At the Hudson Yards Development Corporation public meeting about redevelopment plans for the huge West Side rail yard the other night, Friends of the High Line boosters distributed American Apparel T-shirts with the logo “High Line Railyards,” a reminder that a good chunk of the now-beloved trestle runs through the site and implicitly urging the MTA to ensure that whoever develops there protects it. MTA chief planner Bill Wheeler dubbed himself a High Line fan, but he warned that developers’ bid prices would guide the MTA’s decision about protecting it. (In other words, if someone will pay more for the site but plan to remove the High Line, the MTA would be okay with that.) But here’s the good news for High Line supporters: The public-review process for the site means the MTA’s decision won’t be the last word.
Congestion Pricing Needed to Fund MTA?The MTA expects a windfall from the sale of Hudson Yards, but that doesn’t mean it won’t need the anticipated revenue stream from congestion pricing. The weekday drivers’ fee into central Manhattan was proposed last month by Mayor Bloomberg to fund mass-transit improvements. New York City Partnership chief Kathryn Wilde, an early advocate of congestion pricing, told us this morning that even a record-breaking price at Hudson Yards would leave the MTA in the hole. “When we’ve cut ribbons on $50 billion of [needed] projects and have money to cover $20 billion, congestion pricing becomes not a new tax but a revenue stream,” she told us. Like the mayor, Wilde expects state approval before this year’s legislative session ends in June. Which would be some kind of record in itself. Alec Appelbaum
Fight Looms Over High Line Section [Crain’s NY]
What Might the Far West Side Look Like? See the Planners’ First Sketches
Mayor Bloomberg may not have gotten his Jets stadium on the Far West Side of Manhattan, but some sort of development over the MTA’s Hudson Yards is on its way. The state-city Hudson Yards Development Corporation has set preliminary guidelines for land use and open space on the site, and by the end of the month, the MTA will start soliciting proposals from developers for the massive property. We got hold of sketches HYDC showed to neighborhood leaders this spring (they’re all after the jump), depicting what the area might look like after its completion; they show a possible Logan’s Run–ish skyline, key crossings with and without the High Line in place, and a flicker of the questions likely to dominate public debate. How many parking spaces? How many affordable apartments? How tall? What kind of parks? The general public gets its first say in what’s promised to be a long review process at a joint community board–HYDC meeting Tuesday night. Study up. —Alec Appelbaum
A Lifeline for the Upper High Line?Last we checked in, it seemed that the officials were willing to let a successful bidder for the MTA’s Hudson Yards site tear down the part of the High Line that runs through it. But now it seems that the old rail trestle, slowly becoming a park, has a better chance of survival. Real Estate Board of New York president Steven Spinola, the developers’ rep in the bidding process for Yards site, tells us that the Hudson Yards Development Corporation showed a presentation yesterday that included a preference for cultural institutions, lots of open space, an attempt at affordable housing, and sympathy for the High Line. “They likely will say to developers: We would like to see the High Line continue, so explain what the ramifications would be of keeping it,” Spinola said. “I think they started off negative about the High Line and they’re now looking to keep it an open question.” Will developers — who must sink more than $300 million just to install a platform over the rail yards — willingly invest around an elevated park? “The High Line, if done properly, can clearly be an attractive amenity for the city,” Spinola says. “A few months ago people said, ‘Of course it’s a problem,’ and yesterday people said, ‘We’ll analyze it.’” —Alec Appelbaum
Earlier: The High Line, Suddenly Not as High?
Public to Get Input on Hudson Yards Next MonthThe public will soon get a long-deferred first look at Hudson Yards, the vast swath of rail depot and waterfront that Bloomberg once targeted for a Jets/Olympic stadium. Amid reports that the MTA has considered awarding the whole site to one nervy developer — remembering, perhaps, how much efficiency Larry Silverstein brought to ground zero — civic activists have demanded public review of the design rules for the site. And that’s what they’ll get: Last night, Hudson Yards Development Corporation president Ann Weisbrod said there will be a public presentation on May 8 at 6 p.m. Of course, this is a public-review sprint for a development marathon: MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin says the transportation agency, which owns the land, will ask for bids by the end of May and then quickly go through the required public process, reviews by the local community board and so forth. But at least you’ll get an early peek at what you’ll have to live with for the next hundred years. —Alec Appelbaum