Resolution readied on supersized St. John’s plan

Photos by Lincoln Anderson
Photos by Lincoln Anderson

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | As part of its role in the ULURP review process for the St. John’s Partners development, Community Board 2 has held a series of hearings over the past month on the mega-project planned for the Lower West Side waterfront.

C.B. 2 initially had planned to weigh in with its resolution on the project at its full-board meeting on Thurs., June 23. However, the board has gotten permission from the city to extend its deadline, so will vote on its resolution at its meeting next month, on July 21.

At the hearings, stakeholders have clearly staked out their positions. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and its many supporters say the development, with 1,600 residential units — with nearly 500 of them affordable — is far too large. Plus, they stress, it would put added development pressure on the unlandmarked portion of the South Village.


G.V.S.H.P. also is demanding a commitment from the Hudson River Park Trust that, after this project, no more air rights be transferred from Pier 40, at W. Houston St., into Community Board 2 sites along the waterfront.

The St. John’s Partners project includes a commitment to buy 200,000 square feet of air rights from Pier 40 for $100 million. That money, in turn, would be directed back into repairs of the ailing pier, under an amendment to the Hudson River Park Act that allows such air rights transfers, which was passed a few years ago.

The St. John’s Center plan is strongly supported by local youth leagues that heavily use the pier — including the Greenwich Village Little League and Downtown United Soccer Club — plus the Village Community Boathouse, which offers free boating for all ages in traditional Whitehall rowboats at Pier 40.

A rendering of the project, with Pier 40 — from which 200,000 square feet of air rights will be transferred for use in the development — at the right.


As one youth league parent said, “This is our Central Park.”

But many other Villagers are simply aghast at the project’s size and anticipated impacts and feel it’s far too big a tradeoff “just to save the kids’ ball fields.” One opponent evoked the spirit of Jane Jacobs, saying the legendary urban planner and community activist surely would have slammed the project.

Tobi Bergman, C.B. 2 chairperson, explained the reason for the extended deadline for the board to give its advisory opinion on the plan:

“We were trying to complete our resolution in time for the June full board meeting next week because the return date for our resolution is July 18, three days before our July full board meeting,” he said. “While we have completed our public hearing process, the Pier 40 / St. John’s Terminal Working Group needs more time to write a comprehensive and responsive resolution. Fortunately, City Planning and the borough president understood the problem and will give full consideration to our resolution if returned a few days late. Between now and the July meeting, the Working Group will meet a few more times in executive session, always in a public place to be announced on our calendar, and always encouraging the public to come listen. Our current goal will be to complete a draft resolution by July 15 for consideration at our full board meeting on July 21.”