design trust for public space

View south from 32nd Street

Joel Sternfeld© 2000 reproduction courtesy of Pace MacGill Gallery

PUBLIC SPACE MAKERS: THE FUTURE OF THE HIGH LINE June 11, 2001 Held at The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, World Trade Center

Looking north from 17th Street, ca. 1934.

W hen built in 1934, the High Line, a 1.5 mile-long elevated structure running fro m 34th Street through Chelsea to G ansevoort Street, carried freight above M anhattan’s W est Side streetscape to eliminate nu m erous dangerous street crossings. With rail tracks that are no w disused and bloo ming with pioneer plant species, the High Line is caught betw een those w ho wish to de m olish it and those w ho wish to reuse it as a ne w, elevated pedestrian green w ay. Supporters of the High Line’s redevelop m ent believe that this im portant piece of urban infrastructure could beco m e a unique landscaped pro m enade with breathtaking vie ws of the city. O w ners of the land underlying the structure see the High Line as an urban blight and an im pedim ent to their properties’ develop m ent and are pushing forw ard a de m olition order. This Public Space Makers foru m, m oderated by Alexandros W ashburn, President of the Pennsylvania Station Redevelop m ent Corporation, and Public W orks A dvisor to form er U.S. Senator M oynihan, invited full discussion of current public and private positions, both pro and con the High Line’s redevelop m ent. Panelists and stakeholders in the audience addressed the legal, political, financial and design issues that will decide the High Line’s fate, and that m ust be resolved as part of any feasible adaptive re-use scenario. The foru m convened a panel of experts in the politics, finance and physical design of public sector infrastructure develop m ent. Panelists: Politics

John N. Lieber Senior Vice President, La wrence Ruben Co. Form er Assistant Secretary of Transportation Charles Shorter Principal, Real Estate A dvisory Services Group, Ernst & Young M arilyn Jordan Taylor Partner and Chair-elect, Skid m ore, O wings & M errill



Representatives fro m nearly all of the follo wing public and private interest groups participated in the foru m. (A co m plete list of registrants appears on p. 8 of this report.) Government — Positions, Powers and Responsibilities The federal government, specifically the Surface Transportation Board, is the ultim ate governm ental authority regarding the High Line’s future use. The federal govern m ent has control over the High Line as a piece of the nation’s rail infrastructure, and as such, granted a de m olition order that had been brought on the High Line by underlying property o w ners. (The order, pending for nine years, still a w aits the petitioners’ ability to secure the full a m ount of de m olition costs, including the cost of inde m nifying the rail o w ner against liability during de m olition.)


The federal govern m ent supports a national grant progra m, Rails to Trails, that funds just such adaptive re-use of abandoned rail infrastructure, and offers a variety of other transportation funding progra ms. M ultiple federal agencies, including transit, railroad and high w ay, also have potential funding roles and therefore oversight capacities.

Public Space Makers Guest Curator Alex Washburn and Design Trust Fellow Casey Jones briefing panelists on the High Line.

New York State and New York City both could play a significant role in funding capital im provem ents, and w ould likely share financial responsibility for the High Line’s ongoing m aintenance. M oreover, the State and City are currently partnering in the develop m ent of the ne w Hudson River Park that runs adjacent to the High Line, and either or both might vie w a High Line project as co m peting for construction dollars with the park. New York State has a special interest in that it is also the largest single o w ner of the developable land beneath the High Line, notably the vacant land at the north end adjacent to the Penn Station Rail Yards. Furtherm ore, the State w ould necessarily be the applicant to federal transportation funding progra ms. W hile the State has not yet taken an official stance pro or con re-use, G overnor Pataki’s First Deputy Secretary attended the foru m. The various branches of New York City govern m ent are cur rently divided on the viability of the High Line’s redevelop m ent. W hile High Line construction w ould require fiscal co m mitm ent, the addition of a vital ne w public open space a m enity to an area of M anhattan that ranks third to last in public parks could also appeal to voters.
• The Mayor’s Office, through its Office of Environ m ental Coordination w as the Lead A gency

on the de m olition application in 1992. The current ad ministration re m ains in favor of de m olition. All four De m ocratic m ayoral candidates as w ell as the Republican candidate Mike Bloo m berg have co m e out in favor of preserving the High Line.
• Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields is a vocal proponent of re-use.


• The City Council unanim ously passed a recent resolution urging the City and State to take

specific steps to preserve re-use opportunities for the High Line. In addition, the City Council’s 2001 budget includes a $125,000 grant to the Friends of the High Line for further study. Council m e m bers Christine Q uinn and Gifford Miller are a m ong the Council’s strongest advocates. At the foru m, Councilm an Miller confirm ed his position by declaring, “ W e at City Council are not going to let this go do w n without a fight! ” (Councilm an Miller will be a m ong the fe w councilpersons that will re m ain after this N ove m ber’s elections.)
• Community Board #4 is very concerned with the issue, but has not resolved its stance

apart fro m its longstanding resolution against de m olition. (N o representatives fro m the Board spoke at the foru m.) Citizens’ Groups A group of co m m unity residents, business people and concerned citizens form ed Friends of the High Line in 1999 to save the High Line fro m de m olition. The group believes that this neglected land m ark offers N e w Yorkers the opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind public open space that can be enjoyed by all. Re-use, they argue, will link the residential, cultural, co m m ercial, recreational and industrial co m ponents of the neighborhoods along its length and could be an engine of econo mic gro wth. In the mid-‘80s, individuals o w ning land underneath the elevated High Line form ed the Chelsea Property O w ners, Inc. to effect de m olition of the structure that is preventing the m fro m developing the land in their possession. They argue that the abandoned, rusting structure is a visual blight on the neighborhood and, m ore im portantly, its spalling concrete poses a serious hazard to passers-by. CSX Corporation – The Current Owner of the High Line The rail co m pany CS X Corporation, is co m mitted to ceding o w nership of the structure. It has been ordered by the federal govern m ent to w ork with all interested parties to effect the best exit strategy for the High Line, and to re m ain neutral as to the High Line’s outco m e.

Design and Planning Zoning — With the recent gentrification of Chelsea and the N orth Village, real property adjacent to and underlying the High Line’s south and center sections has greatly appreciated in value. In addition, m any available vacant sites around the High Line’s north end in the Penn Rail Yards at 34th Street are being developed or are slated for develop m ent. There also exist a m bitious plans for building on public land in this district, including a m ajor sports stadiu m, expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and a sub w ay line extension. The panelists all ackno wledged that a reclaim ed High Line could positively im pact this current transform ation of a form erly industrial sw ath that (with or without the structure) begs for rezoning. They felt that, m oreover, the structure could and should create its o w n unique linear district. They w ould like to see co m prehensive planning result in the creation of a High Line zone w hich


The High Line traversing Chelsea from West 34th Street to Gansevoort Street. Casey Jones


could establish height restrictions and m ake possible the transfer of air rights along the length of the structure. This w ould benefit current lando w ners and attract private investm ent. (CS X Corp. o w ns the rail line itself as w ell as an ease m ent up to 20’ above the tracks. As a result, current zoning allo ws property to be developed under the structure as w ell beginning 20’ above the tracks. This permits the develop m ent of tall buildings that have the High Line tunneling through the m, as w as originally the case w hen the rail line delivered freight directly to the upper floors of factories.)

Urban design — M arilyn Jordan Taylor, the panel’s urban design specialist, stated that above all, the High Line should retain its linear character (“ Don’t save just part of it,” Ms. Taylor advised) and that its success – and security – depends upon m ultiple points of access. She w ould like to see the High Line relate to m any structures along its length in various w ays, and sees this as enriching the w ay it w ould be used and experienced. A m aster plan w ould need enough flexibility to allo w the High Line to be inform ed by adjacent properties as they are developed over tim e. Planning Com missioner A manda Burden also advocated designing the High Line increm entally and in a way that addresses the character and needs of the various neighborhoods along it’s length.
Listening to Ms. Taylor’s presentation, the panelists concurred that a co m pelling design vision is a first requisite to inspire project advocacy and secure funding on any level, and further cautioned that the planning vision should not be driven by funding availability. The question w as raised as to ho w an overarching design vision might begin to be developed. Ms. Taylor replied that the foru m’s organizer, the Design Trust for Public Space, is currently producing an extensive study that identifies specific design and planning issues relevant to the High Line and sets forth reco m m endations to guide subsequent physical planning. Politics and Finance Capital funding for High Line redevelop m ent is currently estim ated at (minim ally) $30m.-$45m. based on industry estim ates, exclusive of access points – a relatively sm all budget for a m ajor ne w open space a m enity. M aintenance funding is estim ated at $1.5 m. per year. Liability is also a cost issue: a govern m ent sponsor w ould be in the best position to assu m e the inde m nification/ liability risks, as they are self-insured. Panelist Charles Shorter led the discussion on finance. He stated that financing should be achievable and recom m ended that the project developers assem ble a wide variety of funding strea ms (“the R o b e rt M oses model,” as he put it). He urged that the High Line plan provide for a (pedestrian) tr a n s p o rtation com ponent to be eligible for the great availability of federal transportation funding. He suggested that a redeveloped High Line should include a co m m ercial co m ponent on or under the structure similar to Paris’ Pro m enade Plantee, and pointed out that the current m odel of park sponsorship requires parks to be self-sustaining to so m e extent through revenue strea ms. John Lieber and Alex W ashburn further discussed federal funding sources. Mr. Lieber concurred that the m ost abundant federal funds for capital projects are connected with transportation rather than with parks. They outlined a list of federal funding progra ms (listed belo w). So m e of these, such as the progra m for port im prove m ents, have been used to develop pedestrian pro menades in other cities:


• Transportation and Co m m unity and Syste m Preservation Pilot Progra m • High w ay Bridge Replace m ent and Rehabilitation Progra m • TE A-21 m oney • Bicycle Transportation and Pedestrian W alkw ays under N HS, STP (including Sect. 130 and 152)

C M A Q, Federal Lands, Scenic By w ays, and Recreational Trails funds
• Recreational Trails Progra m • Railroad Rehabilitation and Im prove m ent Financing Transportation and Infrastructure

Finance and Innovation Act
• Federal funds dedicated to port im prove m ent • Federal Hazards Elimination Progra m: — elimination of grade crossings • Federal Discretionary funds • Federal Rails to Trails: need state and — support to activate Rails to Trails m onies. • Federal high w ay trust fund: Transportation Enhance m ents (through State); Transportation

and Co m m unity and Syste m Preservation Pilot Progra m (co m petitive/and/or discretionary)
• Federal Transportation Bill 2003 “ de m onstration projects”

A resounding the m e of the foru m w as that for m any reasons, any redevelop m ent effort needs significant govern m ent co m mitm ent – at the City and State level – early on. Planning Co m missioner Burden advised that, if initial govern m ent co m mitm ent can be secured, a public authority, conservancy or trust could be created w hose mission w ould be to secure hybrid funding and spearhead develop m ent.

Section of the High Line.

Casey Jones


Stephen Crosby, President of CS X Real Property, concurred that w hile a govern m ent interm ediary is needed to secure federal funding, plans for a redeveloped High Line should tap into private investm ent. He underscored the hope that zoning changes, particularly in Chelsea, might create w ays for underlying and adjacent lando w ners to realize so m e gain fro m a ne w public High Line. He felt the property o w ners and friends of the High Line need not be adversaries, and e m phasized the advantage to incorporating the current property o w ners’ ideas and interests into future planning. A representative fro m the Chelsea Property O w ners’ group co m m ented that the type of consensus building afforded by this foru m could potentially be quite useful.

The Public Space Makers foru m w as a m ajor step to w ard understanding and productively channeling the concerns of all parties, and laying out the issues and positions surrounding State and local govern m ent support. That said, considerable negotiations still need to occur. After the Public Space Makers foru m in June, the efforts of the Chelsea Property O w ners and the City of N e w York w ere focused on finalizing a de m olition agree m ent before the end of the Giuliani ad ministration. Friends of the High Line had secured the support of all six m ayoral candidates and w ere preparing to challenge the city’s participation in the de m olition agree m ent, but all activities stopped on Septe m ber 11. By early October, ho w ever, the de m olition advocates (Chelsea Property O w ners) and the Giuliani ad ministration w ere again pressing forw ard to conclude a de m olition agree m ent before the end of that ad ministration. Friends of the High Line is m onitoring develop m ents and plans to fight any m ove m ent by the City to w ards de m olition. Fro m another perspective, the Design Trust for Public Space is producing an extensive study of the High Line to m ove forw ard a design vision for the High Line. The project, Reclaiming the High Line, undertaken in partnership with Friends of the High Line, and led by architect Casey Jones, provides a fra m ework to address critical design issues. The Design Trust is also sponsoring a w eb co m ponent to the project, designed by architect Keller Easterling that allo ws users to explore the m any dim ensions of an im agined and real High Line. The project report and the w ebsite will be available in January 2002.


PUBLIC SPACE MAKERS: THE FUTURE OF THE HIGH LINE June 11, 2001 Held at the Port A uthority of N e w York and N e w Jersey, W orld Trade Center List of Registrants John Alschuler President HR & A Richard Anderson President N e w York Building Congress Michael Aronson Reporter Daily N e ws Alison Bauer Progra m Officer J.M. Kaplan Fund Deborah Beck Executive Director Real Estate Board of N e w York Carol Berrins Project M anager 7th Regim ent Arm or y Laura Bohn Peg Breen President Land m arks Conservancy Michael Brimmer Regional VP for State Relations CS X Corporation Sherry Brous Bay Brown Director of Co m m unications Design Trust for Public Space Amanda M. Burden Co m missioner N e w York City Planning Co m mission Coleman Burke G eneral Partner Waterfront N e w York Chelsea Mini Storage James Capalino President Capalino + Co m pany

Donald Carroll Chief Engineer Waterfront N e w York Chelsea Mini Storage Jeffrey Ciabotti Trails Im ple m entation M anager Rails to Trails Conservancy Daryl Cochrane Co m m unity Relations Office of Congressm an Jerold N adler Jane Cowan Coordinator, Investigating W here W e Live The M unicipal Art Society of N e w York Stephen Crosby President CS X Real Property Jay Cross President N e w York Jets Joshua David Co-Founder Friends of the High Line Robert Davis Partner Robinson Silverm an Pearce Aronsohn & Berm an LLP Olivia Douglas Millenniu m Partners Keller Easterling Design Trust Fello w Reclaiming the High Line Kimberly Egan Associate Covington & Burling Dahlia Elsayed Staff Friends of the High Line David Emil President Windo ws on the W orld Richard C. Fiore Sr. President Bohn Fiore, Inc. Michael Fishman Vice-President Sa m Sch w artz Co m pany


Chris Flagg VP M arketing Waterfront N e w York Chelsea Mini Storage Deborah Frank CS X Corporation Rosalie Genevro Executive Director Architectural League of N e w York Elizabeth Gilmore Treasurer Joyce M ertz Gilm ore Foundation Jack Goldstein Director Hudson Yards Coalition Maryanne Gridley First Deputy Secretary to G overnor Pataki Robert Hammond Co-Founder Friends of the High Line Gary Handel Principal G ary Ed w ard Handel + Associates Gary P. Haney Partner Skid m ore, O wings & M errill Usman Haque Kitty Hawks President Kitty Ha wks, Inc. Kevin Healy Robinson Silverm an Pearce Aronsohn & Berm an LLP Karen Hock Director of Projects Design Trust for Public Space Steven Honig G eneral Counsel Waterfront N e w York Chelsea Mini Storage Frances Huppert Senior Vice President, Design and Construction E m pire State Develop m ent Corp. Tessa Huxley Executive Director Battery Park City Conservancy

Zeba Iqbal Ernst & Young LLP Laurie Izes Consultant CS X Corporation Shirley Jaffe Vice President Develop m ent M adison Square G arden Casey Jones Design Trust Fello w Reclaiming the High Line Ed Kirkland Chair Chelsea Preservation & Planning Co m mission Deborah Kirschner Director of Public Relations Hardy Holzm an Pfeiffer Associates LLP Neil Kittredge Architect Beyer Blinder Belle Stanley Kramer Partner Ha wkins Delafield & W ood Robert Kulikowski Transportation A dvisor Office of the M anhattan Borough President Lionel Kustow Patricia Lancaster Vice President L Cor Incorporated Thomas Lunke Director of Planning Harle m Co m m unity Develop m ent Corporation Ellen Macnow N YC Dept. of Parks & Recreation Sandro Marpillero Principal M arpillero Pollak Architects Vince McGowan Director of O perations Battery Park City Conservancy Jon McMillan Rockrose Develop m ent Corp. Yael Melamede M adstone Films


Raymond Merritt Willkie Farr & G allagher Gifford Miller Councilm e m ber N e w York City Council James Moogan Assistant Deputy Co m missioner N e w York State Departm ent of Parks Florent Morellet Co-Chair Save G ansevoort M arket Paula Mueller Director of Hu m an Resources G eneral Counsel Rockefeller & Co. Jeffrey Mulligan M anhattan Office Departm ent of City Planning Douglas Oliver Will Phillips Partner Covington & Burling Linda Pollak Principal M arpillero Pollak Architects Nina Rappaport Architectural Journalist Jane Rudofsky Legal Fello w The M unicipal Art Society of N e w York James S. Russell Architectural Journalist Jeanette Sadik-Khan Parsons Brinckerhoff Frank Sanchis Executive Director The M unicipal Art Society of N e w York Doug Sarini Vice President Edison Parking John Scheib Counsel House Subco m mitte on Railroads Co m mittee on Transportation & Infrastructure Thomas Schmidt Chief Financial Officer Waterfront N e w York Chelsea Mini Storage

Thomas Sexton State Director of Pennsylvania Rails to Trails Conservancy Charles Shorter Principal Real Estate A dvisory Services Group Ernst & Young Basil Smikle Intergovern m ental Relations The Hon. Hillary Rodha m Clinton U nited States Senate David Sokol Freelance Reporter Grid Herbert S. Streng Orda M anage m ent Michael Syracuse Friends of the Highline Marilyn Jordan Taylor Partner Skid m ore, O wings & M errill Margaret Tobin Vice President, Project M anage m ent Vornado Realty Trust Clark Wallace Project M anager Trust for Public Land Francis Walton Chief Financial Officer E m pire State Develop m ent Paul Warchol Paul W archol Photography Ulla Warchol Paul W archol Photography Alexandros E. Washburn G uest Curator, Public Space M akers Design Trust for Public Space Claire Weisz Co-Executive Director Design Trust for Public Space Barbara Wilks Principal Ten W Architects Andrea Woodner Co-Executive Director Design Trust for Public Space


• Co m mittee on State and Federal Legislation, City Council,

Report of the Legal and G overn m ental Affairs Division: Resolution calling upon the G overnor of the State of N e w York, the M ayor of the City of N e w York and the M etropolitan Transportation A uthority (“ M TA”) to tak e all necessary steps to obtain a Certificate of Interim Trail Use fro m the U nited States Surface Transportation Board (“ STB ”) in connection with “railbanking ” the elevated railroad viaduct running fro m 75-95 G ansevoort Street through 547-55 West 34th Street, M anhattan (co m m only referred to as the “ High Line ”), A pril 18, 2001. (available fro m City Council)

• Friends of the High Line w ebsite – w w • A da m G opnik, “ A W alk on the High Line: The Allure of a Derelict Railroad Track in Spring,”

The N e w Yorker, M ay 21, 2001, 44-49.
• High Line Virtual Tour, Old N e w York City – w w m/highline/contents/highline.html • Alexandros W ashburn,

Panelists’ Briefing M aterials, Public Space M akers: The Future of the High Line, June 11, 2001. Includes sections on the Politics, Finance and Design issues surrounding the High Line, as w ell as the follo wing appendices: Early Chronology; Robert M oses Sources and Uses; O w nership Data; Construction Data. (available fro m the Design Trust for Public Space)

Available in January 2002:
• Keller Easterling, w ebsite on

Reclaiming the High Line – see link on w w w.designtrust.or g Reclaiming the High Line – see link on w w w.designtrust.or g

• Casey Jones, project report on


design trust for public space

BOARD OF DIRECTORS DD Allen Theodore Berger Deborah Berke J. Carter Bro w n, honorary David Childs, e m eritus M axine Griffith Louise Harp m an, ex-officio Kitty Ha wks Yael M ela m ede Ray m ond M erritt, secretary/treasurer Paula M ueller A nnabelle Selldorf A ndrea W oodner, president

STAFF A ndrea W oodner Co-Executive Director Claire W eisz Co-Executive Director Karen Hock Director of Projects Bay Bro w n Director of Communications

ABOUT PUBLIC SPACE MAKERS Public Space Makers foru ms are designed to help m ove N e w York’s w orthy public space projects forw ard to beco m e reality for the benefit of all its citizens. Participants include key decision m akers in politics, finance and design, w hose kno wledge or opinion is particularly relevant to specific issues of pedestrian infrastructure, institutional and public construction, and parks and open space develop m ent. Public Space M akers is sponsored by the Design Trust for Public Space, a non-profit organization dedicated to the im prove m ent of N e w York City’s public built environ m ent. The Design Trust brings private sector design professionals together with public entities to provide design expertise in a planning, develop m ent or policy context at early stages of project develop m ent. Public Space M akers is funded in part by the J M Kaplan Fund and Skid more, O w ings & Merrill LLP.