2:10 pm Nov. 15, 2012
Media mogul Barry Diller is contemplating a $35 million donation to rescue a languishing pier in Hudson River Park, according to sources familiar with his plans.
Diller, the chairman of IAC, which owns, among other properties, Match.com, the Daily Beast and CollegeHumor, has made a commitment to underwrite the renovation of Pier 54, which juts into the Hudson River at West 13th Street, in the event that the Trust gets matching funds from the city and state.
To that end, the Trust has asked architectural firms to submit design proposals for the pier.
"The design proposals or design concepts are either just being delivered or about to be delivered," said James Capalino, a lobbyist and boardmember of the Friends of Hudson River Park, the Trust's fundraising partner.
"It’s supposed to be an event venue," he said.
Diller's spokesperson had no immediate comment.
The Hudson River Park Trust, which is chaired by the mayor's girlfriend, Diana Taylor, and whose president and C.E.O. is former New York City Economic Development Corporation executive Madelyn Wils, is supposed to be self-sustaining.
But in recent years, it has run into financial difficulties.
In a January 2012 article detailing the Trust's fiscal challenges, the Times reported that according to Wils, "demolishing and replacing Pier 54, at West 13th Street, where the wood pilings are severely deteriorated, would cost $33 million; constructing its planned amenities would cost an additional $30 million."
The Trust once held events on the pier, but has been forced to close it due to its state of disrepair.
The process of soliciting the designs has so far not been made public by the Trust, which declined to say whether the architects are being paid for the proposals. (The Trust's procurement guidelines call for the process to be public when it comes to the planning of major design changes to the park.)
"Pier 54 is one of the Hudson River Park's last undeveloped public piers and has enormous potential to be another open-space gem for New Yorkers to enjoy," said Stefan Friedman, a spokesman for the Trust, in a statement. "While we have reached out to members in the design community to discuss ideas, we are still in the extremely early stages of this effort. The very moment we have funding for the pier, we will reach out to our partners in the community, and, together, we will determine how best to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity."
A spokesman for the Trust declined to comment on Diller's plans.
UPDATE: Justine Sacco, a spokeswoman for Diller, sent over the following statement: "This is all incredibly premature and highly speculative. We’ve been having informal discussions with Hudson River Park Trust about a project but are far from proceeding."