Updated Jan. 12, 2020 at 4:50 p.m. They don’t want the wall, they don’t need the wall.
Manhattan officials are fighting back against the proposed construction of a wall at Hudson Yards that they say would potentially limit public access to some of the development’s green space.
Hudson Yards officially opened to the public last March, completing the first phase encompassing the a section between 10th and 11th Avenues, from 30th to 34th Streets. Phase Two, the Western Yard, has not begun construction yet; the site is located one block west, between 11th Avenue and the West Side Highway.
Phase Two is slated to include six residential buildings, a mixed-use building, a school and green space throughout. Related Companies, which is behind the Hudson Yards development, has said the Western Yard is expected to be completed in the mid- to late-2020s.
The High Line Park currently runs along the southern and western edges of the phase two space, and plans were for the public to have access to the new Hudson Yards green space, including from the High Line.
But Related Companies is now considering an idea for a deck to rise as it reaches the High Line border to the west, instead of original plans for the deck to slope down, according to a Jan. 10 New York Times report.
This new idea for the rising deck would allow for a parking garage underneath and create a 20-foot high wall next to the High Line, spanning 700 feet along the park. The wall would potentially obstruct access from the street and High Line into the Hudson Yards green space, the Times noted, along with blocking views into the greenery. If the plan goes forward, it would require approval from the chair of the City Planning Commission.
Related Companies did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for the developer, Kathleen Corless, told the Times that the idea is very preliminary, and that Related intends to fulfill all obligations to the city in the existing plan, including the zoning requirement of having 50 percent open space.
“As with phase one of the project,” Corless told the Times, “connectivity to surrounding neighborhoods and the High Line will be critically important.”
Several officials released statements against the possible wall.
“This plan to essentially wall off the High Line from promised open spaces—and to build a parking garage, no less—would be a terrible breach of public trust,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “We should be breaking down barriers between New Yorkers and green space, not building walls.”
Johnson also added in a comment to this paper, “This is a textbook example of greed from Related. They’ve made a fortune developing luxury condos all around the Highline and now they want to wall off part of it for their wealthy customers? Absolutely unacceptable. The Highline is for the public, not the chosen few.”
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer called limiting park accessibility from the street and High Line a “big mistake,” and State Senator Brad Hoylman said, “Related’s proposal to build a 720-foot-long, 20-foot-high concrete wall to cut off the High Line from new open space is an absolute disgrace.”
Robert Hammond, co-founder and executive director of the High Line, criticized the idea for a wall in an email sent out to park supporters.
“This regrettable plan would take a one-of-a-kind public space opportunity—the possibility of a creatively designed transition from the open spaces of Hudson Yards to the riverfront stretch of the High Line—and turn it into a fortress-like barrier,” Hammond wrote. “It will cast the High Line in shade and amplify noise from the West Side Highway.”