Photo: NYC EDC.
Local residents and city officials bundled up yesterday morning to celebrate the partial opening of Pier 35, a new recreational space on the East River near Rutgers Slip.
As the Economic Development Corp., which was in charge of construction, noted in its press release:
Pier 35 includes pedestrian pathways along the East River waterfront to adjacent Pier 36, a series of landscaped lawns, seating areas offering views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, and a 35-foot-high screen wall that will be overlaid with vines. In addition, the City received a grant from the NYS Department of State to create “Mussel Beach,” a 65-foot long artificial habitat intended to attract colonies of blue and ribbed mussels along the East River shoreline. The habitat feature was designed to promote river ecology, with sloping concrete surfaces, textures, and gardens in the tidal zone. The final phase of the park will include a new canopy and is expected to fully open in Spring 2019.
EDC Executive Vice President Seth Myers said, “Residents in this community have voiced their desire for more access along the East River Waterfront, and we’re thrilled that this park will become integral to the area’s recreational fabric.” Trever Holland, co-founder of Friends of Pier 35, added, “We are extremely excited about today’s opening of a new and beautiful open space in our neighborhood… We look forward to working with NYEDC, NYC Parks, our local elected officials and everyone involved in delivering the full waterfront esplanade project.”
Pier 35 was supposed to have been completed years ago. There were many problems along the way, including difficulties replicating the screen wall (designed by SHoP Architects). The city was forced to bring in a new contractor, Hunter Roberts, after the original contractor, Trocom Construction, failed to complete the project.
Photo: Friends of Pier 35.
After years of delays, Pier 35 (near Rutgers Slip) finally opens today with a tour by city officials and neighborhood leaders. It’s a partial opening of the new recreational area. We’ll have more details later.
One day (we hope), Pier 35 will finally open, providing the Lower East Side with a new recreational space along the East River. On Saturday, the Friends of Pier 35 takes matters into their own hands with the first annual “Family Fun Fitness Day Challenge.” See the flyer for more details.
Three weeks ago, we reported that the marina at Pier 36 had been shut down after a routine inspection detected some stability issues. The situation is now causing Pier 36/Basketball City to cancel large-scale events.
The organizers of the New York Bike Expo announced yesterday that they had been forced to move the huge May 4-5 event to Pier 12 in Brooklyn. “Due to unexpected maintenance at Pier 36,” a press release read, “we were unable to obtain a permit to hold the event at Basketball City, where (it)… has taken place for six years.” Every year, the Bike Expo attracts 60,000 visitors.
When we stopped by the pier the other day, a gate leading to the marina remained padlocked. Several notices posted on the fence from tour boat operators indicated that they’d moved to other piers.
Basketball City runs a 70,000 square foot events center at Pier 36, while BillyBey operates the marina. The entire facility is overseen by the city’s Economic Development Corp. (EDC). A city spokesperson previously indicated that the inspection had turned up damage to the piles supporting the pier apron. Today the spokesperson reiterated what we were told March 28, that there’s “a load restriction on Pier 36.”
We are still awaiting answers to other questions today. It’s unclear whether all Pier 36 events have been canceled, or only events using the outer walkway alongside the East River. The Nike GO NYC 5K is supposed to end up with a big private party at Pier 36 this coming Sunday. It remains to be seen whether it will end up moving to another facility.
Crews working on the long-delayed park at Pier 35 have typically used the outer deck of Pier 36 to move trucks and heavy equipment into place. They’re now accessing the pier directly from South Street. The pier stability issue could potentially lead to even more delays.
The upside? Locals regularly complain about the tour boat activity and the large crowds descending on Basketball City for events. At the moment, they have a reprieve. On the other hand, Lower East Siders know what can happen when there are East River pier stability problems. Remember the 10-year closure of portions of East River Park?
The marina at Pier 36 has been temporarily shut down after a recent inspection.
As you may know, a private company, BillBey, has a contract for docking services at the pier. Tour boats use the area in back of Basketball City (near Montgomery Street), mostly in warmer months.
During a routine inspection, contractors noticed damage to the piles that support the pier apron (that’s the area on the outer edge of the pier). The city’s Economic Development Corp., which oversees Pier 36, instructed BillyBey to stop operations until a more detailed examination can take place. An EDC spokesperson says a “live load restriction” was placed on the apron. A full engineering report will be available in a few days.
When we visited the site yesterday, a metal gate leading to the East River was locked. The situation is not impacting Basketball City, which is continuing to schedule events.
The partial closure of Pier 36 is having some impact on construction of a long-delayed park at neighboring Pier 35. There was no activity there during our visit yesterday. The EDC spokesperson said new options are being evaluated at Pier 35. The two piers have separate structures.
We’ll let you know when we learn more.
Across the city during the past week, local residents marked the five year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy in many different ways. On Friday. NYC public officials and community leaders gathered at Pier 35 (near Clinton Street) for the unveiling of a “High Water Mark” sign.
Signs have been put up in various areas throughout New York to raise awareness of the growing flood risk. The program is sponsored by FEMA and administered by the NYC Office of Emergency Preparedness, with cooperation from the Economic Development Corp. A local group, Friends of Pier 35, led a campaign for the installation of a high water mark sign on the Lower East Side.
The sign reads:
October 29, 2012: On this day, Hurricane sandy brought a storm surge of 5 feet to this area as indicated by the red line below.
On Friday, NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito said, “This sign is here to remind everyone about the life-threatening storm surge we experienced when Hurricane Sandy hit and to urge New Yorkers to stay prepared should another storm hit.” City Council member Margaret Chin and State Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh also attended the event.
As we have reported, the city’s multi-million dollar plan to create flood barriers along the East River has been pushed back. Construction was supposed to begin this past summer but is now anticipated to start in 2019.
Pier 35 rendering. SHoP Architects.
Officials with the city’s Economic Development Corp. last night told members of Community Board 3 that a new construction manager has been hired to complete the troubled Pier 35 project.
The pier, located near Rutgers Slip, was envisioned as an “eco park” and recreational area. Its completion has been delayed numerous times during the past few years, most recently due to complications in building a screenwall separating the park from a sanitation facility at Pier 36. A contract with Trocom Construction was closed out and a new Request for Proposals issued last summer.
Now Hunter Roberts Construction has been brought on to oversee Pier 35, as well as other remaining portions of the East River Esplanade project. In a briefing for CB3’s Parks Committee, the city officials said the firm is hiring a sub-contractor for the screenwall. They hope construction will resume sometime this summer, with completion taking about one year. The work was also delayed because the Department of Environmental Protection had not signed off on the upgrade of a water main running along the East River. The EDC team said their sister agency has now approved the location of the new water main, and they’re now working out final design details.
Another part of the contract involves the construction of a pavilion at Rutgers Slip. According to the EDC officials, the agency is still working to understand new design requirements put in place after Hurricane Sandy. The facility will include some type of community space as well as Parks Department storage. While the community had wanted a food concession at the pavilion, a Request for Proposals did not generate much interest. It’s unclear whether the city will renew its efforts to find a food vendor for the space.
One other related note. Last night, local residents renewed longstanding complaints about the sorry state of exercise equipment on a portion of Pier 35 that opened in 2014. Some of the broken-down equipment was removed. Other sections of the pier were damaged by skateboarders. Last night, Parks Department officials say they’re working on repairing the area and replacing the equipment. There was no exact timetable for the completion of those repairs.
Pier 35, March 2015.
What’s happening at Pier 35 on the East River, which is one day destined to become an elaborate eco-park?
A few weeks ago, a reader sent along fresh photos showing some signs of work near Pier 35 on the East River. As you may recall, the city is transforming the pier (located near Jefferson Street) into an eco-park and recreational area, but the work has not progressed all that swiftly. In the last several days, Lower Manhattan Info published new details about the project.
We received some photos yesterday from a Lower East Side resident indicating some progress at Pier 35, located just north of the Manhattan Bridge. Reconstructive work has been underway, haltingly, for the past few years, and is expected to continue through next year. The ultimate plan is to create an “Eco Park” and recreational area. The resident who sent these photos indicated he hadn’t seen any visible signs of work being done on Pier 35 in about a year.
There’s, of course, a lot of work being done on the waterfront. Recently Basketball City opened in a portion of Pier 36, just to the north of Pier 35. This fall the Parks Department and Community Board 3 will begin a “visioning” process for a park planned at Pier 42 at Montgomery Street. The final stretch of the promenade, just below the Williamsburg Bridge, opened in the last couple of weeks.