Space for OOB in the Hudson Rail Yards 

submitted by David Pincus 
8/14/2009 


The theater task force of Community Board 4, recently provided recommendations to be included in the full Board's mandated Comments and Recommendations Section (over 100 pages) of the City's official response to the plans submitted by The Related Companies, the developer of the Western Rail Yards (WRY) - The "Hudson Yards" Project which will be located on the far west side of Manhattan in the low '30's.

This urban renewal project is slated to be one of the largest in American history, and securing places for use by non-profit local arts groups is an important priority for CB4.

Initially CB4's Theatre Task Force requested that out of the 6,000,000 to 7,000,000 sq. feet of intended commercial usage:

50,000 sq. ft. of cultural and arts related interior space be made available, in a number of performance spaces throughout the WRY, for the use by multiple and long-standing neighborhood arts organizations, at low and/or preferential rates.

Preference for use of these spaces to be given to a variety of Arts groups, whose organizations have a long and documented history of commitment to an artistic vision, as well as a current and active artistic development process in place.

These facilities should become creative homes for small to mid-sized theaters, new work/developmental companies, classic repertory, revival theaters, dance, visual and musical performance companies as well as festival and/or fringe organizations.

Citing that an "investment in small to mid-sized arts, cultural and community facilities are essential to the successful creation of vibrant and self-sustaining neighborhoods," CB4 additionally requested that the following facilities be created:

Two (2) 10,000 sq. ft. spaces;
Two (2) 5,000 sq. ft. spaces;
Four (4) 2,500 sq. ft. spaces; and
Six (6) 1,500 sq. ft. spaces.

What follows is the text that made it into the final document. The task force didn't get all that it asked for - as there are a wide variety of community facilities, parkland, infrastructure, police and fire presences, etc., that need to be planned and constructed throughout the development, but we stand fully behind the response, and intend to work with the support of concerned citizens, the full board and our elected officials to implement these proposals.

Final Draft of Arts and Cultural Spaces Section:

"In order to be developed successfully, the WRY must be a place where people will want to live, work and visit. Investment in small to mid-sized arts, cultural and community facilities are essential to the successful creation of vibrant and self-sustaining neighborhoods. CB4 has long been known as a center for the arts, particularly in its support of smaller not-for-profit cultural organizations that gravitate to the Broadway area. However, these organizations are being priced out of the area. Integration
of smaller cultural organizations in the WRY optimizes planning for the site and presents a perfect opportunity to mitigate the displacement of these organizations.

At a May 2009 presentation to the community, Related stated that 8,000 square feet of not-for-profit cultural use has been planned for the site but no details on the use or siting have been provided and none are listed in their site plan. Given the overall size of the Proposed Actions, 8,000 square feet is inadequate.

REQUESTS FOR ARTS AND CULTURAL SPACE MITIGATION
  • CB4 therefore recommends that at a minimum, 16,000 square feet, be dedicated to small to mid-sized not-for-profit cultural uses and include, theater, musical, dance, and visual performance/ rehearsal space.
  • The performance/rehearsal spaces should be integrated throughout the WRY in publicly accessible areas.
  • Dedication and operation of the arts spaces must be part of the
  • Restrictive Declaration as follows:
        - Four (4) 2,500-square foot performance/rehearsal spaces; and
        - Six (6) 1,500 -square foot performance/rehearsal spaces.
  • Preference should be given to organizations currently located in CB4 with a documented history and commitment to an artistic vision.
  • The planning, siting and management of the dedicated Arts spaces must be made with the ongoing participation of CB4.

How can we help.  Tell us what you think.


RELATED STORIES

The Hudson Yards Overview - History, financing, plans, etc. from the city
Hudson Rail Yards Development Project - a YouTube video of the plans and virtual models
CB4's Archives of the Project - Details of CB4's dealings with this project



 

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