Is Bike-Sharing in NYC’s Future?

[Bike-Sharing in Lyon, France. Courtesy Time Out New York]

Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC the new DOT Commissioner, and Transportation Alternatives, New York is becoming a more bike-friendly city, and more and more people are starting to bike regularly. Up next could be a bike-sharing program, which are already successful in many European Cities (Here’s info about the Paris, Copenhagen, and Barcelona models), and newly implemented in Washington D.C. Everyone from city residents to tourists are nuts about bike-sharing: it’s a cheap, easy, healthy, environmentally friendly way to get around cities. In NYC, where so many of our transit trips are short and congestion is only getting worse, bike sharing makes so much sense to me.

There’s an experiment beginning July 10th to see what it could look like in New York. A “summer pilot program” produced by the Forum for Urban Design, the Storefront for Art & Architecture, and the City Bakery, the New York Bike-Share Project will consist of 20 bikes available for 30 minute rentals (for free!) at a few locations in downtown Manhattan, and an exhibition and discussions about the feasibility for a long-term project.

Your help is needed to make it a success! The project wants to know how New Yorkers would use these bikes for short trips–so go for a ride! Or, better yet, join me in volunteering: There are shifts available from Thursday July 10th – Monday July 14th. If you’d like to help out, please e-mail info@forumforurbandesign.org. I’ll report back with pictures.

Read more: Bike-Sharing Gets Smart, Time, June 12, 2008

Bicycle-Sharing Program to Be First of Kind in U.S., New York Times, April 27, 2008

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Breaking: MTA Selects Tishman Speyer as Rail Yards Developer

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The MTA announced today that it has selected Tishman Speyer as the developer for the West Side Rail Yards. This announcement ends a 6-month bidding process, which originally involved 5 competing developers. Tishman Speyer outbid the only other remaining contender– a joint venture between the Durst Organization and Vornado Realty Trust– by $112 million, offering to pay $1.004 billion for the rights to develop the 26-acre site.

Read the Mayor’s Press Release

Tishman Speyer Wins Hudson Yards Bid  [Crain’s New York Business]

Tishman Speyer’s initial bid plan for the rail yards can be seen here. The developer is working with architect Helmut Jahn, landscape architect Peter Walker, and master planner Cooper Robertson. They plan to build 10 million square feet of commercial space, 3 million square feet of residential and leave 13 acres of open space.

Given the sudden change in gubernatorial administration, many thought the rail yards bid process would be delayed, so the MTA’s announcement comes as somewhat of a surprise. Tishman Speyer’s anchor tenant, Morgan Stanley, reportedly dropped out of the deal earlier this month.

Tishman Speyer’s plan preserves most of the High Line, but proposes to demolish the spur over Tenth Avenue, and part of the section along 30th Street.

Statement regarding the MTA’s selection of Tishman Speyer as the developer for the West Side Rail Yards

Friends of the High Line commends the MTA’s, Governor Paterson’s, and Tishman Speyer’s commitment to preserving the majority of the historic High Line structure at the rail yards, and we look forward to working with all parties to ensure that the remaining sections– the spur over Tenth Avenue and the full section along 30th Street– are preserved as well.

The treatment of the High Line in Tishman Speyer’s bid shows considerable progress from the days when it was presumed the site could not be developed without its demolition. We applaud the MTA, Governor Paterson, and Tishman Speyer for their recognition of the High Line as an asset. We are encouraged that they now share our vision of a continuous walkway, connecting the new residential, commercial and open space at the rail yards with the gallery district of West Chelsea and south to Gansevoort Street, that will be the next great city public park for New Yorkers and visitors alike.

We look forward to working with Tishman Speyer and the MTA to ensure full preservation of the entire historic High Line structure, including the spur over Tenth Avenue– almost 1/3 of the rail yards section. Additionally, we hope to work with the leadership of the Javits Center to ensure that a pedestrian easement is preserved on the 33/34 block, north of the rail yards site, so that the High Line may extend to connect with the Javits Center and the planned #7 extension.

We owe a great deal of our success so far in this process to the tireless support of our elected officials: Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Governor David Paterson, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Borough President Scott Stringer, and State Senator Tom Duane, as well as the advocacy efforts of Manhattan Community Board 4, and our Friends of the High Line volunteers and supporters. Our rail yards advocacy would not be possible without the generous financial support of the A.G. Foundation, the Greenacre Foundation, the Leon Levy Foundation, John and Wendy Neu, and Wendy Keys and Donald Pels.

  

Rail Yards Update: MTA Might Pick a Bidder by Wednesday

The development process for the West Side Rail Yards could be on the verge of an important milestone, which comes as a surprise to many who assumed this process would be slowed in the wake of economic uncertainty and the recent shakeup in state government.

The New York Times reported this weekend that the MTA is close to choosing a bidder for the 26-acre site, Manhattan’s largest development plot. Of the five developers who originally bid on the rail yards site, only two are still being considered. Charles Bagli of the Times names the bid by Tishman Speyer as the favorite and quotes real estate executives as saying that the MTA will likely make a recommendation at its board meeting this Wednesday. Also in the running is a joint venture by the Durst Organization and Vornado Realty Trust.

According to the article, The Related Companies, considered by many to be the front-runner, lost some ground last week when Newscorp, their anchor tenant, pulled out. Extell also withdrew its bid last week, and Brookfield Properties withdrew in late February, though they are still open to teaming with another developer on the site.

Both Tishman Speyer and Durst/Vornado have said they support at least partial preservation of the High Line at the rail yards, but both developer plans include demolition of sections of the structure. Tishman Speyer’s plan proposes keeping the entire structure except for the spur over Tenth Avenue at 30th Street, while Durst/Vornado’s plan tears down the spur, along with the entire portion of the structure along Twelfth Avenue. Friends of the High Line has met with both developer teams during this process, and we’ve made the case for full preservation of the High Line. The MTA has stated that preserving the High Line is its preference, as long as it doesn’t hinder construction or prove cost-prohibitive.

Friends of the High Line is also beginning to work with our new governor, David Patterson, on this issue. We’ve been in touch with the governor’s staff, and we’re confident he will be a strong ally in the movement to preserve the entire High Line. Governor Paterson has a strong environmental record and a proven interest in listening to community concerns regarding large-scale developments. We look forward to working with the new governor on our most important advocacy issue, and we will continue to work with the MTA and their selected developer to ensure the High Line’s full preservation.

Read the New York Times Article

View Tishman Speyer’s Rail Yards Bid

Help Save the New Globe Theater!

There’s a public hearing this Monday, March 10, about another great New York adaptive reuse project that we love.

On Governors Island sits a dilapidated military fort with exciting potential.  It was built to defend the country against the British in the War of 1812 and has an identical blueprint to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.  The New Globe Theater Campaign wants to restore the fort and create an amazing performing arts center in the open courtyard. 

 New Globe Rendering

Check out some more pics and renderings from architects Foster + Partners here.

There is a hearing at Federal Hall on Monday to challenge the National Park Service’s decision to eliminate the New Globe Plan.  

Monday, March 10th @ 5:00-7:00PM. 

Federal Hall, 26 Wall Street.

If you can attend, please RSVP by emailing Derek Collard at derek@newglobe.org.

Much like the High Line in the very beginning, this grassroots movement will need significant public support.  Take a minute to send an email to the National Park Service urging them to approve the New Globe!  Act soon!  Their deadline for public comments is March 18 at 11:59PM.

Christine Quinn’s Fighting Words on Javits High Line Block

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[Photo: William Alatriste]

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn delivered a rousing State of the City address (PDF) yesterday.  It included a promise to “fight any shortsighted effort” by the State to sell two sites adjacent to the Jacob Javits Convention Center until a compelling plan for Javits expansion or replacement is made.  One of the sites: the northermost High Line block, from 33rd to 34th Street. 

 The State previously said it intended to sell this site, as well as the 39th – 40th Street block, to fund housing and transportation initiatives.  Friends of the High Line’s views this site as an integral part of the larger discussion of the development of the rail yards.  And if the 33-34 site is sold for development, accommodation must be made for the existing High Line structure and/or its easement.

The State immediately issued a statement supporting its position, as reported by the New York Observer. Speaker Quinn has been a leading supporter of the High Line project since 1999, and she is an outspoken supporter of our efforts to preserve the High Line at the rail yards.

MTA Makes West Side Rail Yards Bids Public

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Yesterday, the MTA revealed to the public the five developer bids for the West Side Rail Yards. There will be a 2-week period of public input, and then a committee of representatives from the MTA and the Hudson Yards Development Corporation will make a recommendation to the MTA’s Board.

The northern 1/3 of the High Line runs through the Rail Yards site. Three of the five development proposals (Brookfield Properties, The Related Companies, and Extell Development Corporation) preserve it fully.

Tishman Speyer preserves part of the High Line but demolishes the spur over Tenth Avenue and part of the section along 30th Street.

Vornado Realty Trust and the Durst Organization tears down most of the High Line at the Rail Yards, replacing it with a futuristic aerial walkway called the “skyline”.

No matter which Rail Yards proposal is selected by the MTA, these plans will certainly change later in the process, so even the proposals calling for full preservation of the High Line could end up partially demolishing it. And as the New York Sun points out, the MTA has not released any of the financials.

Read FHL’s E-Newsletter about the public release.

And CB4 has some background on the Rail Yards site.