Pier renovation by competition

The New York City Economic Development Corporation is holding a contest for proposals to renovate three piers in Lower Manhattan.

The contest, called “Change the Course,” is offering $50,000 for first prize and is open to the public. The deadline for Phase I submissions is Nov. 16, and the final awards will be announced by the NYCEDC in February 2013.

“We are as committed as ever to reclaiming and transforming the city’s hundreds of miles of waterfront,” said NYCEDC president Seth W. Pinsky in a Sept. 20 press release. “This innovative competition will allow us, in an era of limited resources, to uncover new methodologies and techniques for addressing the challenges associated with our aging infrastructure, thereby ensuring its long-term sustainability.

The project aims to address existing challenges in two specific sites: one located in Lower Manhattan between the South Street Seaport and Pier 35 along the East River and the other on the Hudson River Park Pier — the substructure of Pier 40. The renovation plans fall under an economic strategy by the Bloomberg administration to update the shoreline, create parks and spur job growth.

Because of New York City’s improved water quality, more fish have begun to live in the pier, which contributes to the decay of the docks.  The NYCEDC said previous attempts to solve the problem have been either ineffective or too costly.

The NYCEDC, the primary driver for economic growth in New York City, is evaluating project submissions based on how thorough, cost-effective and practical they are.

Mitchell Moss, a professor at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, expressed support for the plan.

“I think the city of New York is being very smart in terms of trying to get new ideas and new approaches to remedy the waterfront,” Moss said. “It attracts different kinds of groups to bring their energy and creativity to the issue.”

More New Yorkers are beginning to appreciate the piers after the surrounding neighborhoods improved.

Steven Matteo, 52, works by the Hudson River Park Pier and visits the pier every day for lunch.

“It’s comfortable here,” Matteo said. “I remember coming here as a kid, when I was 12 or 13. It wasn’t a good place then. They cleaned it up nice, though.”

Veronica Carchedi is a contributing writer. Email her at cstate@nyunews.com. 

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