Major Diller, DVF High Line donation

By Albert Amateau

The final section of the High Line park — the loop around the West Side Rail Yards from 30th to 34th Sts. — was virtually assured on Tuesday.

Mayor Bloomberg announced on Nov. 1 that CSX, the railroad that still owns the section of the line around the rail yards, has agreed in principle to donate the elevated structure to the city. CSX three years ago donated the first two sections of the High Line for the park.

The city also agreed in principle with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which owns the rail yards, and with the Related Companies, the rail yards’ designated redeveloper, to preserve the entire structure, including a spur to the east spanning 10th Ave.

“This is the latest and most significant step in our move to preserve the entire history High Line,” said Friends of the High Line, the group maintaining and operating the elevated park in a public-private partnership with the city.

Once the agreement’s legal details are final, the group will design the High Line park’s final section.

The park’s first segment, between Gansevoort and 20th Sts., opened in 2009, and the second segment, between 20th and 29th Sts., opened in June. The park has had more than 3 million visits since it opened.

The Nov. 1 announcement also included an agreement between Related and Coach, the retail luxury goods company, for Coach to occupy 600,000 square feet of a new building to be built on the northwest corner of 10th Ave. and W. 30th St. above the rail yards. Related plans to begin construction in 2012.

Earlier, Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg made a $20 million pledge to the High Line, the largest-ever private contribution to a New York City public park.

The money is for the Friends’ fundraising campaign to transform the High Line’s final segment as part of the 1.5-mile elevated park.

The couple made the commitment on behalf of the Diller-von Furstenberg Foundation at an Oct. 26 event with Mayor Bloomberg and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe in attendance.

“On behalf of all New Yorkers, I would like to thank the Diller-von Furstenberg family for their vision and investment in our city’s future,” Bloomberg said. “The impact of their gift will be felt for decades.”

With the $20 million pledge, Diller and von Furstenberg have donated a total of $35 million to the High Line. So far, Friends of the High Line has raised $85 million toward their goal of $150 million for the park’s final segment.

The rail viaduct was built in 1933 between 34th St. and the St. John’s Terminal on Spring St. by the New York Central Railroad to raise freight trains above the surface of 10th Ave.

Various sections of the viaduct were dismantled over time. The last train on the High Line delivered a load of frozen turkeys to the Meatpacking District in 1980.