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Local News September 5, 2013  RSS feed

New Waterfront Park Opens In Hunters Pt.

Former Industrial Site Turned Urban Oasis

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, State Sen. Michael Gianaris and City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer joined other city officials in cutting the ribbon on the Hunters Point South Waterfront Park last Wednesday, Aug. 28. 
(photo: Edward Reed, Mayor’s Office) Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, State Sen. Michael Gianaris and City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer joined other city officials in cutting the ribbon on the Hunters Point South Waterfront Park last Wednesday, Aug. 28. (photo: Edward Reed, Mayor’s Office) Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg opened last Wednesday, Aug. 28, a new 5.5-acre waterfront park and several new roadways at the site of the Hunters Point South development in Long Island City.

Hunters Point South Waterfront Park will transform a previously abandoned post-industrial area into a dynamic site for recreation along the East River with views of the Manhattan skyline. Designed as a neighborhood amenity and a destination for New Yorkers across the five boroughs as well as visitors, the park integrates new infrastructure, landscape and architectural design into the creation of an open waterfront.

The park includes a central green, a playground, a waterside promenade and additional recreation space, as well as a 13,000 sq. ft. pavilion housing comfort stations, concessions, an elevated café plaza and a maintenance facility for the Department of Parks and Recreation.

The park is an integral part of Phase 1 of the Hunters Point South project, the creation of a new mixeduse neighborhood that includes affordable housing, retail, open space and a new public school situated on approximately 30 acres of prime waterfront property. When the entire the multiphase Hunters Point South development project is complete it will encompass approximately 5,000 new units of housing, with a minimum of 60 percent being affordable, making it the largest new affordable housing complex to be built in New York City since the 1970s.

The mayor was joined at the announcement by Parks and Recreation Commissioner Veronica M. White, New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) President Kyle Kimball, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, State Sen. Michael Gianaris and City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer.

“Opening up more of our city’s waterfront for public enjoyment has been a top priority for this administration,” said Bloomberg. “Around the city, we’ve reclaimed abandoned or neglected parts of our waterfront, and turning them into innovative open spaces. I know that Hunters Point South Waterfront Park will quickly join the list of beloved green spaces along our city’s shores.”

“With the completion of this waterfront park, as well as extensive additions and improvements to the site’s infrastructure, Hunters Point South is poised to become a vibrant middle-class neighborhood and a destination for New Yorkers and visitors alike,” added Kimball. “This park, which highlights the waterfront’s natural beauty and engages visitors actively with the natural world, also incorporates infrastructure designed to help prevent the area from flooding, making this site a model for sustainable and resilient waterfront development.”

“Great parks make great neighborhoods— providing opportunities for recreation and reflection, acting as community gathering places, and improving the environment,” White stated. “Hunters Point South Waterfront Park is an example of a space that does all of these things, and will act as a cornerstone for the continued growth and reclamation of the East River waterfront. I would like to acknowledge the hard work of our partners in government and the community, and congratulate the Economic Development Corporation on the completion of this stunning new park.”

“The opening of the Hunters Point South Park marks a milestone in our City’s commitment toward expanding green space for New Yorkers,” said Van Bramer. “For decades to come future generations of Long Island City residents and Queens park goers will be able to enjoy the panoramic views of New York City’s skyline on 5.5 acres of parkland that have never existed before. I am proud to have secured $320,000 in funding to help make this additional green space a reality for the residents of western Queens. The opening of Hunters Point South Park, a park that will rival any other throughout our City, helps establish Long Island City’s prominence as one of the New York’s top destinations for decades to come.”

Building the park

Construction of the Hunters Point South Waterfront Park project—as well as the roadways design and construction— was led by the EDC. The park, which also features an adult fitness area, a dog run, a garden that incorporates historic rail tracks on the site with vegetation and a small beach, is operated and maintained by the city Department of Parks and Recreation.

The project has led to the creation of 3,400 linear feet of new roadways that are now open to the public. In addition, significant new infrastructure and improvements to existing infrastructure were constructed in order to support both the park and future elements of Hunters Point South, including water mains, storm and sanitary sewers, street lighting and traffic signals.

A new public school building— which will house a middle school, a high school and a District 75 program— adjacent to the park site will be completed by the School Construction Authority and open for the 2013-2014 academic year.

The infrastructure, roadway and park design was led by Arup, which served as the project’s prime consultant and infrastructure designer. Landscape architecture firm Thomas Balsley Associates and architecture firm Weiss/Manfredi designed the park. The design was driven by a commitment to creating a vibrant recreational environment for New Yorkers and visitors while adhering to principles of sustainability.

These include the pursuit of alternative transportation options, such as the inclusion of a Class 1 bikeway, introduction of bio-filtration swales along the length of the park, extensive planting of native species of grasses and trees, use of environmentally sustainable wood, the remediation of formerly contaminated industrial areas, and the solar orientation of site and buildings to optimize passive heating and cooling and solar energy generation.

In order to ensure that the park is prepared for the impacts of climate change, the design allowed for a significant augmentation of the shoreline, employing bulkheads and riprap to better withstand the possibility of future flooding from the East River. Outside of the park, seven streets leading to the area will also function as extensions of the park landscape, featuring bike paths and additional plantings to encourage pedestrian traffic and create an inviting approach to the park and the waterfront.

Sixty-four photovoltaic panels located on the roof of the pavilion will generate 37,000 kWh per year, powering over 50 percent of the entire park. Additional panels can be installed over the remainder of the roof to provide 100 percent of the park’s operating power. The pavilion also houses LEED Silver-certified public restrooms, maintenance and office space, and a future food concession.

Hunters Point South Waterfront Park, the roadways and related infrastructure were built at a total cost of $66 million, financed primarily by the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). The Federal Highways Administration provided $1.56 million for roadway development (administered through the New York State Department of Transportation), and the New York City Council (through Van Bramer) provided $320,000 for natural turf in the park.

More to come

The park and infrastructure are an integral part of Phase 1 of the Hunters Point South development project. Phase 1 broke ground in March of this year and includes the first two residential buildings with a combined 925 permanently affordable apartments and roughly 17,000 square feet of new retail space, the key infrastructure installations and waterfront park, a new 1,100-seat school and ample parking for residents and visitors. The substantial completion of Phase 1 is expected for 2014.

The HPD has issued the request for proposals (RFP) for Site C, an 110,000 square-foot lot, which will be the second phase of the Hunters Point South development. The Phase II RFP calls for approximately 1,000 units of housing with a minimum of 50-60 percent of the units designated as permanently affordable and approximately 28,000 square-feet of community/commercial space. The RFP guidelines also include requirements for storm and flood mitigation.

Design for the remaining five acres of Hunters Point South Waterfront Park, immediately to the south of the newly opened area, is complete.

“The Hunters Point South project has provided the city with an unprecedented opportunity to create an entirely new neighborhood—from park space and new infrastructure to affordable housing, schools and transportation,” said HPD Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua. “Green space and parks help to tie communities together by offering people a place where they can interact, gather, and enjoy the outdoors. The Hunters Point South Waterfront Park will be a fantastic amenity for the future residents of the affordable housing and for all New Yorkers.”

“New roads, new protected bike paths and a link to our rapidly growing ferry network are transforming Hunters Point South from a dormant waterfront into a vibrant city-withina city,” said Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “With solar panels, bioswales and other innovative infrastructure, New York’s newest neighborhood will serve as a model as we work to future-proof our city.”

“Great schools make great communities, and this September, we’re opening terrific new options in a brand new building in Hunters Point. As parents flock to the amenities in this neighborhood, they’ll have fantastic new schools to choose from,” City Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott said. “Over the last decade, we’ve transformed our school system. The brand new, state-of-the-art building—along with the high-performing schools it houses—reflects the extraordinary changes we’ve delivered not just in Hunters Point, but across the city.”

More reaction

“I am thrilled to join Mayor Bloomberg, my colleagues and residents of Western Queens to celebrate the creation of a new park along the waterfront,” Maloney said. “This dynamic new park and urban beach will become a must-see destination for New Yorkers and tourists seeking a unique experience. It’s a truly welcome addition for our community.”

“The opening of Hunters Point South Waterfront Park is another step forward in the revitalization of Queens’ East River waterfront,” added Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. “This beautiful 5.5 acre jewel of a public space will offer breathtaking views and valuable amenities both to current residents of the area as well as to those who will be moving into the neighborhood as the rest of the Hunters Point South development project moves along. I commend Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his administration and everyone involved in the Hunters Point South project for helping to make this wonderful new park a reality.”

“The opening of Hunters Point Park will be a great addition to our community,” said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan. “I would like to thank Mayor Bloomberg and the NYC Economic Development Corporation for all of its hard work in helping to bring another wonderful park to western Queens.”

“Long Island City is the most exciting neighborhood in New York and as it continues to grow, it is crucial that public access to the East River waterfront is secured. Together with Gantry State Park, the LIC waterfront will now be a jewel among New York's parks,” Gianaris said. “I am thrilled at the expansion of green space that will be provided by the Hunters Point South Waterfront Park and thank Mayor Bloomberg for his commitment to our community.”

“Today is a great day for our community as we celebrate the opening of the most spectacular park in all of New York City,” Community Board 2 Chairperson Joseph Conley said last Wednesday. “Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg, who listened and responded to our vision of creating Hunters Point South, we have recaptured open public space on the waterfront that was once industrial and closed off to our community.”

Making ‘WAVES’

The development of Hunters Point South will advance the goals of the Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy (WAVES). Launched in March 2011, WAVES is a citywide initiative launched by Mayor Bloomberg which will create a new sustainable blueprint for the city's more than 500 miles of shoreline.

WAVES has two core components: Vision 2020: The New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, which will establish long-term goals for the next decade and beyond, and the New York City Waterfront Action Agenda, which will set forth priority initiatives to be implemented within three years.

Together, the initiatives will provide a blueprint for the city's waterfront and waterways and focus on the following categories: open space and recreation, the working waterfront, housing and economic development, natural habitats, climate change adaptation and waterborne transportation.