NEW YORK CITY – City officials and developers made history Tuesday when they broke ground at the 26-acre development site for the Hudson Rail Yards project. Surprisingly, the much-anticipated plan doesn’t put forth any unique plans in accordance with FoodWorks, the city’s recently released plan for a more sustainable food system.
Naming it “Manhattan’s final frontier,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the project will bring in 23,000 jobs and 750,000 square feet of destination retail space, which includes premier shops, cinemas, specialty destination restaurants, markets and bars. The project is also set to include additional housing, office space, a new public school, a non-profit cultural facility, a luxury hotel, and the future home of Coach Inc.’s world headquarters. Oxford Properties Group and partner, Related Companies, promise to turn the site into an “incomparable network of parks and public plazas that weave throughout the west side.”
This leaves many wondering: can resident live off open-air cafes alone?
New York City hasn’t always been a strong proponent of mixed-use zoning. After World War II, fears of fire, pollution, and disease left the city with countless separate-use zoning regulations. Only in the 90’s did mixed-use development see a boom thanks to advancements in architecture and city planning, as well as research on its potential to increase physical activity.
Another High Line
Yet while many celebrate the coming of the new Hudson Rail Yards development, many resident fear that they’re in store for a second High Line, a public park built on NYC’s historic freight rail line. In an article from Chelsea Now, West Side resident George Boras can’t help but say, “What does the High Line do for us?” He continues,
“There are no supermarkets opening, no shoe repair stores, nothing that would enhance the neighborhood for those who live here with basic services. But there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s the wave of the future.”
The Hudson Yards
It seems that the Hudson Rail Yards project is off to a similar start. Jon McMillan, director of planning for NYC real estate company, TF Cornerstone, sat on two parcels of land near the Rail yards for three years until finally acquiring them in 2005. He just wishes for a more viable food environment,
“We tried really hard to get a grocery store… A deal in the works fell apart, and Ark, the restaurateur that owns Bryant Park Grill, signed a lease instead.”
In the word of Mr. Boras, What [will] the Atlantic Rail Yards do for us? We’ll have to wait and see.