Pier 55 is totally, completely dead in the water.
Financier Barry Diller, the pier’s main backer, announced yesterday he was withdrawing support for the $250 million project.
Hudson River Park Trust, the organization that runs Hudson River Park and would steward the pier, was in the midst of settlement talks with Pier 55 opponents following recent court battles.
The City Club of New York, a small civic organization, took the Trust to court on multiple occasions to fight the proposed pier, which would rise 14 stories at its highest point from custom “mushroom cloud” pots atop white piles. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick with landscape architects Mathews Nielsen, Pier 55’s lush greenscape was programmed for performing arts. For years it was rumored that developer Douglas Durst was secretly bankrolling the City Club’s lawsuits, and in May Durst confirmed he was funding the court challenges in an interview with The Villager.
“Because of the huge escalating costs and the fact it would have been a continuing controversy over the next three years I decided it was no longer viable for us to proceed,” an upset Diller told The New York Times.
In an email to Pier 55 supporters, Diller lamented that a “tiny group of people had used the legal system to essentially drive us crazy and drive us out.”
Diller’s decision ends one of the most captivating public spectacles in recent memory. The troll-fest had the two billionaires running to almost every New York City paper to leak information, drop disses, and escalate their mutual antipathy with a vigor rivaled only by Cuomo and de Blasio’s pettiness. (Durst: “I have nothing against Diller—except he said he wishes I had been killed by my brother.”)
Even the City Club was surprised by the news. Its lawyer, Richard Emery, called Diller’s move “a great decision,” adding that it respects the estuary, a point of contention in the group’s recent legal battles.
Besides the ego feuding, it is also Heatherwick’s second high-profile project to meet the rubbish bin in recent weeks. The London designer’s Garden Bridge, a massive verdant expanse over the Thames River in London, was killed by the city in April.