De Blasio to unveil mixed-use project for Governors Island, sources say

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Governor's Island in New York. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
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Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to announce a significant economic development project on Governors Island during his State of the City speech Thursday night, multiple sources told POLITICO New York.

The project is one of several economic development initiatives the mayor is slated to discuss during his speech, the sources said.

De Blasio is giving control of the project to the Trust For Governors Island, which is expected to seek private developers to create a mixed-use facility on the car-free island, the sources said.

The formal solicitation for ideas would be issued in the summer and a request for bidders would be released later in the year, according to information provided by the mayor's office. Construction could begin as early as 2019.

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Governors Island has 900,000 square feet of space that could be developed.

Three sources familiar with City Hall's plans said the mayor is looking to create spaces for a cultural institution, technology uses, education and business development.

A fourth source said the administration has toyed for a while with what to do with Governors Island, and that development on the land has always been a challenge because residential development is prohibited and transportation is scarce and reliant upon ferries, which are expensive.

Governors Island, which encompasses 172 acres, lies between Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn in the New York Harbor. It was home to a military base for nearly 200 years. The island is now open to the public during the summer season.

The federal government sold 150 acres of the island to New York in 2003, and it was then shared between the city and the state, with the remaining 22 acres declared a national monument overseen by the National Park Service.

The island is now managed by the Trust for Governors Island, with the National Park Service still overseeing the 22-acre national monument, which has two early 19th century forts.

The rest of the island is a mix of open space, shops and art installations.

When the island opens for the 2016 season this summer, it will also feature a project known as "The Hills," which is ahead of schedule. That project includes four man-made hills that, when climbed, will offer views of the harbor. They are made of recycled construction and fill material.

A spokesperson for the mayor did not comment on the expected announcement.

--Additional reporting by Dana Rubinstein.