The plans for that Barry Diller-underwritten redesign of Pier 54

A preliminary rending for a new Pier 54. ()
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Last year, the Hudson River Park Trust produced a memo that circulated among boardmembers of Friends of Hudson River Park containing big news.

According to the memo, it had secured "a $35 million commitment from the Diller Von Furstenberg Family Foundation to advance redevelopment" of the dilapidated Pier 54, which juts out into the Hudson River at West 13th Street, within view of Barry Diller's IAC building on West 18th Street.

"Several months ago," the memo went on to say, "the Trust approached Barry Diller to discuss a naming opportunity donation at Pier 54, with the idea that it would be redesigned as a much needed flexible park/event space that could hold concerts and other events for 5,000 people. Working with designers Michael Van Valkenburgh and David Rockwell, the Trust has now secured Mr. Diller's commitment for design and construction of a 101,000 square foot pier, with a shape and topography unlike any other in New York City."

Total estimated cost: $67 million.

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Estimated groundbreaking: fall 2012 or this spring.

Hudson River Park has some financial problems, and thanks to Pier 54's deterioriation, and the trust's inability to underwrite its repairs, most of it was closed to the public last spring.

The memo was written the following month.

Capital New York first reported details of this evolving plan to rescue the pier—namely the trust's solicitation of design proposals and Diller's $35 million commitment—in November.

At the time, a trust spokesman declined to discuss Diller's involvement and told Capital, "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."

And there was no mention of a formal memo.

The trust still isn't talking and it's not clear whether any money has changed hands. (The trust's procurement guidelines require that the process be public when a major design change is being planned.)

"As the Trust has repeatedly said, Pier 54 has enormous potential to be another open-space gem for New Yorkers to enjoy," said spokesman Stefan Friedman, in a statement. "However, it is early in the process and we are still in the midst of raising funds and discussing top-line ideas to ensure we can develop this opportunity in the right way. Once that funding is secured, we will work shoulder to shoulder with the community to determine how best to rebuild this wonderful parcel."

Also, the design in question, according to Friedman, is "an extremely out-of-date rendering."

"To be clear, this is NOT what Pier 54 will look like," he said. What will it look like is anybody's guess.

Here then, with the proviso that the renderings are dated, is another one:

NOTE: The language in the first sentence has been changed to clarify that the memo produced by the trust, the public-private partnership that manages the park, was not officially intended to be distributed to the board of the Friends of Hudson River Park, the trust's fund-raising arm.