BATTERY PARK CITY — The cost of the massive redevelopment of Pier A has ballooned and the project is slated to run behind schedule, as officials have discovered that the rotting landmark is in worse shape than initially believed, they revealed this week.
The overhaul of the 126-year-old landmarked building will now cost taxpayers $36 million, up from $30 million, and the pier will not reopen to the public until at least the middle of 2013, Battery Park City Authority officials said.
“There was a great deal more rot … than we had anticipated when the project started,” said Gwen Dawson, senior vice president of asset management for the authority, at a Community Board 1 meeting Tuesday night.
“There was a significant amount of water damage, rot and structural deterioration,” she said.
Crews working on Pier A are still continuing to find rot, Dawson said, which means that the work could be delayed even further.
A year of negotiations between the Battery Park City Authority and a committee of representatives from the 11 original condominiums in the south neighborhood has yielded a tentative, 30-year agreement to roll back drastic increases in ground rent for apartment owners that would have started next year and continued for decades. The accord, brokered by New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, will save condo owners some $280 million over the next three decades.
“This has been going on for more than a year,” explained Rector Place condo owner Anthony Notaro, who was a member of the negotiating committee representing the 11 buildings. “We went through two different administrations at the Authority,” he added, in a reference to the change in both the 2010 change in both the BPCA’s board chairmanship and its presidency. He noted that the Authority, “always acted in good faith. They bargained fairly, but very hard. So when we finally reached a point where we felt like we couldn’t give any more, we turned to Speaker Silver. He weighed in with the BPCA and in a matter of weeks, we had an agreement.” Mr. Notaro continued that, “the Authority will still get increases in ground rent, so this is not a windfall or a giveaway. Everybody will pay more than they did before, for every year, but the increases will be less steep than they would have been.” He also observed, “the biggest benefit comes in 2027, when we roll back what would have been a catastrophic increase for everybody.”
In a statement, Mr. Silver said, “this agreement will protect Battery Park City residents from staggering increases that would have caused crushing financial burdens during a time of economic difficulty. By restructuring this payment plan, we will be able to keep more middle-class families in their homes and maintain Battery Park City as the world-class community that it is.”
BPCA, which oversaw design process, will manage construction
Lower Manhattan residents who can’t avoid crossing West Street in the vicinity of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel got an early Christmas present at the Monday board meeting of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), which approved more than $20 million in funding for the long-requested, much-delayed pedestrian bridge over West Thames Street.
“This is terrific news,” said Community Board 1 (CB1) chair Julie Menin, who also serves on the LMDC board. Ms. Menin led the fight earlier this year to have more than $200 million of federal funding, originally allocated to the LMDC to defray the cost of utility reconstruction Downtown, redirected to what she calls “critically important, worthy projects for the residents of this community.” She cites the West Thames pedestrian bridge — a design for which was unveiled in June 2009, only to have the Bloomberg administration cut funding for the project a few months later — as one example of the kind of project that will be funded by this money.
State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said in a statement, “after a year of leading the effort to build a pedestrian bridge at West Thames Street, I am extremely pleased that we have succeeded in getting the funding approved. Improving safety along dangerous intersections at West Street has been a top priority for me and this latest decision is one that could well save lives. With the successful opening of PS 276 this past September, children and their parents will now have a safe and reliable way to cross over West Street at an intersection that sees heavy traffic, particularly trucks and other large vehicles coming and going from the World Trade Center site.”