Exclusive: Mayor allocates $284 million to NYC Parks for East Harlem Esplanade and Pier 107

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Pier 107 will be reconstructed thanks to the new allocation of funds.
Photo by Dean Moses

amNewYork Metro has learned that Mayor Bill de Blasio has allocated $284 million to make repairs along the East River Esplanade, including the currently defunct Pier 107.

This East Harlem area has been in need of renovation for some time now. Pier 107—which has fallen into severe disrepair and has been off-limits to the public since 2018 for fears of structural instability—is also set to receive additional state legislative grant funds from Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez and Senator Jose M. Serrano (not included in the $284 million).

This once popular fishing and picturesque destination for the East Harlem community to enjoy is now a cordoned-off rusted shell of its former self. Elected officials who support the development, and the NYC Parks Commissioner hopes that this reconstruction project will not only return Pier 107 and the greater esplanade section to its former glory, but further improve on its beauty and open outdoor space.

NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver is ecstatic for the newly allotted funds allowing for the restoration to take place. However, since the money has only just been issued, it is still unclear when construction will begin and how long the process may take.  

The inner bowels of the pier. Photo by Dean Moses

“We’re thrilled that Mayor de Blasio has allocated these funds for critical work along the East River Esplanade in the East Harlem area. This funding was just announced, so we’re working on the project schedule which includes determining when design will begin, and then later procurement, and construction. When completed New Yorkers can find the schedule on our capital tracker,” Commissioner Silver told amNewYork in an exclusive interview.

Commissioner Silver says that through this initiative, recreational access to Pier 107 will be completely restored. He also states that he is excited to engage with the community on this project, gathering input on what kinds of improvements the public would like to see employed.

On Jan. 28th amNewYork was provided with guided access to Pier 107, observing its state of disrepair. The site is enveloped by towering metal fences, preventing access to Pier 107’s cracked concrete footpaths, graffiti-smeared benches, and its rusted, unstable roof. Many in the area were sad to see this beloved space rot, but Silver is confident that the transformation will be momentous, allowing for even greater occupancy in the currently restricted area.

The cracked pathways and benches at Pier 107. Photo by Dean Moses

“This project will actually increase open space by rebuilding and restoring access to Pier 107,” Silver added.

The refurbishment will also focus on deteriorating infrastructure throughout the near century-old East River Esplanade, making it safer for pedestrians to walk and enjoy. When asked if the construction will also include flood protection such as what is proposed in the Downtown Manhattan East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, Silver said it is a completely different endeavor, but they will incorporate the rise in sea levels resiliency goals in their planning and design.

“It’s important to note that this is not the same kind of project as ESCR, which is a neighborhood-scale flood protection project. This work will include many resiliency measures, but its focus is state of good repair infrastructure work. We are committed to ensuring that our waterfront parks are coastally resilient, and we’re elevating our assets where it’s feasible to do so. Our approach is outlined in our Design and Planning for Flood Resiliency guidelines, which we released in 2017 and will also be guided by our December 2019 release Vision Plan for a Resilient East Harlem,” Silver said.

In 1931, the Department of Docks first developed the pier, and approximately eight years later, the NYC Parks Department acquired the East River Esplanade. The site began to deteriorate in the 1960s. Efforts to renovate the area have been undergoing since 1987. 

Under the de Blasio administration, approximately $327 million has been invested to rehabilitate the esplanade and include a new open waterfront area for the East Harlem community. Other active projects are in design, and the NYC Parks Department is working on obtaining permit approval from the NYSDEC for environmental mitigation.

amNewYork will continue to follow the progress of the construction and update accordingly.

Access to Pier 107 is currently restricted, but thanks to the reconstruction it will once again house visitors. Photo by Dean Moses