Manhattan East River Waterfront Plans for Transformation

Published on Feb 17, 2012

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The transformation of certain stretches of the Manhattan East River Waterfront from forbidding industrial dumping ground into easily accessible, pretty, and fun spaces got a step closer to reality last week, with a pair of announcements that will directly affect--and, one hopes, improve--the quality of life in certain Manhattan rental apartment neighborhoods.

Now, both of these mega-projects are years away and tens of millions of dollars from completion, but if you had asked me in the early 1990s if certain parts of the Hudson River Waterfront would ever be anything but a decrepit mess I would have said "no way". And look at it over there today: all up and down the west side there are piers and promenades that offer a wealth of leisure and recreation activities. 

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Anyway, back to the East River Waterfront. Probably the biggest project affecting east side Manhattan apartment residents has to be the "Close the Gap" initiative that will link the upper and lower sections of the East River Greenway and so provide continuous waterfront access from Gracie Point all the way down to Battery Park.

The "gap" that needs closure, as residents of east side Manhattan well know, runs from 38th Street to 60th Street, and though actual construction on the project is still years away--the City is just now finalizing the financing--that hasn't stopped two groups, Transportation Alternatives and d3, from holding an international competition in which architects, planners and designers imagined what the 22-block stretch could become.

Out of 58 entries, two winners were chosen (splitting the $5000 prize), and though there's no guarantee the City will even consider the thinking put down here--bridges, skyways, ferry stops, hydropower, and neighborhood-specific esplanades are among the ideas--it always make these mega-projects feel more real once things start being put down on paper. 

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But the big (and happy!) surprise recently was a revealed rendering of the much-anticipated Pier 35 on the Lower East Side which, as everyone has been pointing out, looks positively beachy!

Located between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges just to the north of the South Street Seaport (more good news for residents of lower Manhattan rental apartments in that area), Pier 42 will be more park than fishing pier, with plenty of greenspace (and sand-space?) for lounging and sunning, and even areas that get you right up to the water so you can "dip your feet in" if for some reason that sounds appealing. Pier 35 will cost some $40 million, but the financing's secure, and construction will begin as early as late this spring.  

All-in-all, things are looking up for the Manhattan East River Waterfront, and residents of nearby apartments!    

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