Hudson Yards Promised a Park. They Didn’t Mention the Giant Wall.


I canvassed various city and community leaders. They disagreed.

“Related’s proposal to build a 720-foot-long, 20-foot-high concrete wall to cut off the High Line from new open space is an absolute disgrace and violates the original plan approved by the community board,” said Brad Hoylman, Democratic state senator. He had already heard about the new concept. “No company has benefited more from the High Line than Related, which has used the High Line to sell luxury condominiums and populate its mall with customers. Now they want a private garden for their residents? The last thing New Yorkers need is a wall, and from all people, Steve Ross.”

Senator Hoylman was referring to Mr. Ross’s recent fund-raising for President Trump.

Gale Brewer, borough president of Manhattan, told me she had also heard about the proposal and intends to organize opposition. “Hudson Yards is already considered elitist,” she said. “People wonder, is that for me? Getting people of color to utilize these places is hard enough. This is the worst sort of planning.”

Corey Johnson, speaker of the City Council, who represents the district, called it a breach of public trust. Luxury buildings that have sprouted beside the High Line have increasingly walled off what was the park’s original charm and fascination — the urban adjacencies and “Rear Window” views into and onto old warehouses and tenements.

To wall off the remaining northern- and westernmost stretch of the park, Mr. Johnson said, would betray “what public officials negotiated a decade ago.”

When I called Robert Hammond, executive director and co-founder of the High Line, he said, “Related welcomes visitors from the High Line to shop in the mall at Hudson Yards but apparently takes a different view for this space, where they don’t seem to want our visitors. We thought the whole point of the original zoning agreement was to have a visual connection so that you could see the Western Yard’s lawn from the High Line to let people know it was there and built for them.”

It’s not yet clear whether a wall, as Related seems to imagine one, would violate the letter of the city’s original zoning resolution. As Ms. Brewer and others point out, City Hall retains the capacity to intervene in any case: Whatever Related decides to build at the Western Yard will require approval by the chair of the City Planning Commission.


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