Manhattan's west side has got it made. It's almost not fair to the rest of the island. On the heels of the High Line comes a cultural center that can be viewed from the new park or vice versa. The derelict Pier 57 at 15th St. will be turned into an arts and entertainment center featuring an outdoor cinema run by the Tribeca Film Festival.
So the Far West Village, or the Meatpacking District, or Lower Chelsea or Hudson Piers or whatever you want to call that charmed section along the river seems to have it made. The project was awarded to Youngwoo & Associates by the Hudson River Park Trust a couple of weeks ago, and details of the development have been announced.
The Trust told the Post that it saw in the plans a chance to bring something unique to the park. In addition to the cinema, the plan includes park space, art galleries, cafes, a waterside restaurant, a river education center built into the caissons under the pier, and a market housed in recycled shipping containers and run by the firm that operates the Union Square holiday market.
Youngwoo beat out some of the top developers in the city, perhaps because others backed down off their plans because of fiscal restraints. But Gotham has a rich history of pushing through recreational projects, even in times of financial duress. The idea that parks are something tangible to show the people goes back at least to Al Smith and Robert Moses building a base by building parks.
But then again, the firm estimates that the project should take about a year and a half to complete (which in New York development time is no less than years) and by then the economy may look very different. We'll either all be looking at art in those recycled shipping contaners or trying to live in them.