Photo: Affirmation Arts
There’s been lots of buzz around Hudson Yards, including plans for what is being known as New York City’s most expensive park project EVER. The park is slated to run from West 36th Street to West 39th Street and is estimated to cost $374 million. To make the magic happen, several properties will be facing site demolition, and possible commendation proceedings, including the Affirmation Arts gallery.
The space, run by William Hillman who is quite the philanthropist, is located on West 37th Street. According to its website, “Founded in 1986, the William Talbott Hillman Foundation is involved principally in supporting the visual and performing arts, as well as arts education in Pittsburgh and New York City. With its affiliate organization, the Affirmation Arts Fund, the Foundation has maintained a focus on raising the status of the artist within society and of art as a vocation.”
Reports have been circulating that Hillman is open to giving the building to the city for free with the condition that it remains a cultural center. “I would like to give this building to the people of New York City to share with the world,” Hillman said during a hearing Tuesday.
An interesting tidbit is that the park was originally being called the Hudson Park and Boulevard, but was recently renamed Bella Abzug in honor of the late U.S. Representative of New York.
Back to Mr. Hillman’s building which he has owned for the past 15 years - it’s potentially going to be part of the city’s plans to use eminent domain to build the three-acre addition of green space. In total, there are 10 properties on the city’s condemnation list, including the arts center.
Hillman’s attorneys say that the city could take over the building as early as this fall. Hillman says that he knows it will be difficult to stop the city but is working to remain optimistic. “If we’re not bold and hopeful, nothing will happen,” he told THE CITY (THE CITY is an independent, nonprofit news outlet). “We have to be hopeful and move forward as though we’ll be here.
The city responded with its legal representative Lincoln Patel, a lawyer for the Hudson Yards Development Corporation, saying that “The city will work with displaced businesses to help find them suitable places to relocate. This park has been planned for over a decade and will provide much needed public open space.”
We are eager to see what happens. Recently developer Tishman Speyer bought a two-story building on West 36th Street for $20 million. The building will be demolished and room will be made for the Bella Abzug Park. In exchange, Tishman Speyer will receive air rights from the city to build a tower bounded by Tenth and Eleventh Avenues.
We will keep you posted...