Waterfront Redevelopment: An Urban Work in Progress
Clinton Cove Park/Hudson River Park
By Deborah Meyer Abbs
Developing a 550-acre park (440-acres water and 110 land) on the Hudson River on Manhattan's Upper West Side is a daunting task, but keeping the end result in mind helps. It is also very encouraging to see how much people enjoy Clinton Cove Park and Greenwich Village-two areas of Hudson River Park already open to the public. Sandwiched between the Hudson River and West Side Highway (Route 9A), the entire five-mile linear park runs from Battery Place to West 59th Street in New York City and is broken down into several construction segments, each named for the area of town they are near.
"Pier 51 in the Greenwich Village section of the park is designed as a children's playground," says James Koth, vice president for operations and maintenance at Hudson River Park Trust, the state/city partnership in charge of design, construction, maintenance and operation of the park. "Since opening in 2003, people can see for themselves how popular the playground is by the number of kids and parents who frequent it almost every day. It's wonderful to see the children benefit from the project and engage one another in play for hours on end."
Besides typical park fare, the playground has a 2-inch-deep meandering brook featuring ecology from the Hudson River for kids to splash in, says Christopher Martin, spokesman for Hudson River Park Trust. Two other piers in Greenwich Village, the first state-owned portion of the park to be completed, feature a synthetic grass turf field and a large passive lawn area angled toward the sun so park-goers can catch a few rays while they relax, Martin notes.
According to Koth, Hudson River Park is the largest open space project in Manhattan since Central Park was completed in the 1800s. In 1998 Hudson River Park Trust was created to redo the former industrial sites and rebuild about 13 piers.
"The area was in decline for a couple decades, and the city basically wants to turn it into a recreation area for the public," explains Daniel Heuberger, principal with Dattner Architects, one of the firms that designed Clinton Cove Park. Located at the northernmost tip of Hudson River Park and owned by New York City, the Clinton segment of the park will have three boathouses and three park buildings. The boathouse on pier 96, which opened for use in the spring of 2005, is made of zinc because it is long-lasting and environmentally friendly (it can be melted down and is 100 percent recyclable). The 4,500-square-foot boathouse (run by The Downtown Boathouse for non-motorized crafts) holds 130 kayaks and has a boat repair workshop plus offices and restrooms. Attached to the boathouse is a ramp that leads to a custom-made floating dock that is used as an outdoor classroom.
"The boathouse has large sliding panels that open up so that people can launch boats, and they also provide natural ventilation," Heuberger says. "The panels are closed at night, and [the boathouse] lights up as a beacon on the river."
The building's wood paneling and the deck of the pier are made of reusable tropical hardwood, which is very dense and resistant to moisture. A very expensive part of the project, Heuberger says, is the bulkhead made to keep the water out of Manhattan and to keep the shore from eroding.
Another challenge for the project was making the land stable for building-which is done by "pile supporting" down 100 feet to the bedrock. For the land portion of Clinton Cove Park, a soil mound was created by landscape architects MKW + Associates to provide a buffer between the park and the highway.
"A vacated concrete factory was on the land, and a concrete slab was underneath the surface," says Allen Juba, project manager with MKW + Associates for Clinton Cove Park. "We were able to dig some of the slab up, and for the other parts we piled soil on top for grass and tree growth."
Besides plants and trees, other new landscape elements, which will be consistent throughout all of Hudson River Park, include a blue granite esplanade, light fixtures and the bulkhead railing.
Another point of interest in the Clinton section is the Intrepid Sea,Air &Space Museum, which features the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid as well as the submarine USS Growler and more than 25 aircraft, providing a glimpse of life at sea-past, present and future.
Other segments of Hudson River Park, besides Greenwich Village and Clinton, include Chelsea, Tribeca and Chelsea North to Clinton South. Currently in various stages of development, these areas will have restaurants, volleyball courts and a skatepark. There also are plans for a large ecological habitat area and a rocky beach.
Unlike the rest of the project, another segment, Battery Place to Chambers Street, doesn't border the Hudson River but instead runs along the eastern edge of Battery Park City. In-depth design of this area is on hold until the final plans for the reconstruction of West Street in the World Trade Center area have been established. Planned uses are likely to build on existing ones, including a dog run, community garden, lawns and children's play areas.
The construction budget for the whole Hudson River Park project is $450 million, but once completed, the maintenance and operation budgets will be covered by commercial use, facility rentals and private funds.
"This is a very important project to our city and a really sensible model to give something back to the community," Koth says. "A unique thing is that after the construction of the park is complete, our operating budget won't use any tax dollars."