Pier 26 opening expected any day now

Downtown Express file photo by Josh Rogers Planting work near Tribeca’s Pier 26 in April.
Downtown Express file photo by Josh Rogers
Planting work near Tribeca’s Pier 26 in April.

BY ZACH WILLIAMS   |  The Downtown Boathouse will open by the end of the month, but the future makeup of Pier 26 remains an open question.

Hudson River Park Trust officials, who oversee the Tribeca pier as part of the 550-acre park, will seek potential operators this summer for a future restaurant and education center. Recreational boaters meanwhile will be able to launch their craft and stow their equipment from the Downtown Boathouse, expected to open this month.

Ongoing inspections from government entities such as the city Dept. of Buildings and the F.D.N.Y. make it difficult to determine an exact date when the new boathouse will open, according to Noreen Doyle, executive vice president of the Hudson River Park Trust. The projects have been years in the making with an unclear end date. 

“We’re at the mercy of the agencies that approve us,” she told Community Board 1’s Tribca committee Board  last week, adding: “We’re optimistic but it’s an inspection.”

Total costs for the construction of the boathouse near N. Moore St.  were about $7-8 million, according to Doyle.

A Request for Proposal process will lead to an announcement in the early summer of the future operator of the restaurant which will likely open mid-year 2015, according to Doyle. However, a planned glass facade and possible rooftop bar drew the ire of committee member Marc Ameruso who told Doyle that Board 1 opposed such infrastructure.

“We didn’t want a large glass facade ,, and secondly we didn’t want a bar on the rooftop,” he said.

Doyle responded by saying that she was unaware of any C.B.1 resolutions opposing the glass facade. The design nonetheless was presented to C.B.1 before being finalized, she said.

“There’s a food service where food and beverages can come up … but he’s operating a restaurant, not a bar,” Doyle said. 

Less controversial is a future “estuarium” which will combine education and research into the Hudson River environment. Officials are utilizing a “Request for Expressions of Interest” process, expected to close by July 18, to determine the future operation of the $10 million education center, Doyle said. This process allows Hudson River Park Trust officials to engage multiple parties through a less stringent process than that required by a Request for Proposal, according to Doyle.

Having “a strong vision” for integrating the “estuarium” into the pier will be a key factor in determining the future operator, said Doyle. She added that a broad range of possibilities exist for the eventual make-up of the education center. 

The idea grew out of The River Project, a grassroots organization that started on Pier 26, prior to the pier’s closing for construction. 

Academic institutions and corporations are two potential types of partners in the project, she said. A public hearing process is required for such agreements lasting more than 10 years, she added.

More far-reaching proposals could also require additional funds to realize, she said.

“I think it depends really on if someone says they have a basic need for classrooms and a storage area … Maybe that’s a relatively modest building,” Doyle said. “If someone says they would like something more ambitious for a lab or whatever, that could be more.”