It seems that some New Yorkers hate things that float. An innovative and ambitious plan to erect a floating park on the Hudson River just off 13th Street West turned out to be a big letdown.
The floating park known as Pier 55 was supposed to be an undulating platform that would have stood on the pilings in the Hudson River. The developers had planned for a lush landscape dotted with stages for dance, music, and theater. It was nicknamed Diller Island because of the exorbitant costs of nearly $250 million. The funding was to be provided by media billionaire Barry Diller and his wife, Diane Von Furstenberg, a premier fashion designer in the nation.
Unfortunately, the floating park will remain a dream. Mr. Diller stated last week that he was closing down the project because of increasing costs, way beyond the initial estimate. In addition, he also has had to deal with never-ending lawsuits. He mentioned that while many New Yorkers were with him on this project, a select few were bitterly opposed and had used the legal system to make his plans near impossible.
The battle was between two mega-rich people; Diller versus Douglas Durst who is a New York real estate tycoon. Mr. Durst who was ferociously opposed to the plan of Diller Island and he had the money to back up his opposition. His primary objection was that all the planning for Pier 55 was conducted in secrecy and the entire idea was designed to be nothing but a playground for the filthy rich. He also stated that this monstrous island would also harm the marine life in the Hudson.
The project did have ample support from the Army Corp of Engineers and New York City officials who had already approved permits for such a construction. Both the Governor and Mayor were also in support of this project.
Mr. Diller argued against this allegation that Pier 55 would have been a playground for the super-rich. He pointed out that in the agreement with the city, at least half the theater performance was going to be set at low prices and some would even be free so that the average New Yorker could attend.
However, for now, the plug on Pier 55 has been pulled out. Some believe that in future someone else with money may reconsider the same project. But one thing is for sure: the local government has no money for such a project.