Brooklyn Heights

Here’s your chance to weigh in on the future of Governors Island

August 31, 2018 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The public review process for a rezoning of the southern half of Governors Island has kicked off. The plan would open the island to 4.5 million square feet of commercial, academic, cultural and institutional development. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

Tech firms yes; apartments, no

Look west, Brooklyn: Just a short kayak paddle from Brooklyn Bridge Park, a new global hub for the arts, technology and education is set to rise.

The public review process for a rezoning of the southern half of Governors Island kicked off on Aug. 24. The plan is to open the island, up till now mostly a warm-weather park and weekend events location, to a year-round destination, with 4.5 million square feet of commercial, academic, cultural and institutional development.

A public hearing will be held on Sept. 26, at 6 p.m. at the Battery Maritime Building located at 10 South St. in Lower Manhattan.

The park section occupies 42 acres of the 172-acre island. Mayor Bill de Blasio envisions that 33 acres in the southern half will be dedicated to industries including life sciences, media and technology companies.

“Governors Island’s 43-acre park has made it the jewel of New York Harbor,” de Blasio said in a release. “The island is now set to dramatically expand its role in our city’s economy as we turn its southern half into a center of innovation and education.”

The new development would financially sustain the island’s park and public programming. Historic buildings would be repurposed with a focus on “job producing industries that represent the future of the city,” de Blasio said. “Buildings will be “predominantly low and mid-rise,” and must complement the park and retain the magnificent views.

The development sites include a 7 acre parcel on the western side with views of the Statue of Liberty and a 26 acre parcel on the eastern shore.

Last year, the city included Governors Island as a possibility in its pitch to Amazon, which was taking proposals for a site for its new $5 billion second headquarters.

A recent unofficial CNBC analysis did not rank NYC among the top contenders, however, with Austin, Dallas, Denver and Boston placing higher.

Two ferries currently provide rides to Governors Island. According to a website set up to tout the island’s real estate possibilities, ferries could expand their service to meet the needs of new tenants, and a third 350-passenger vessel on its way, with expected delivery in 2019.

No Condos or Casinos

Don’t expect condos, co-ops or casinos as part of the development plan. A federal deed restriction established as part of the 2003 transfer of the island to New York prohibits any full-time residential buildings, as well as casinos and industrial uses. Academic and institutional uses that will complement the island’s existing character are allowable.

Current tenants includes the New York Assembly Harbor School, in its seventh year on the island, and two arts organizations.

A new 12-inch water main from Brooklyn supplies potable water; Governors Island sewage flows back to Brooklyn.

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