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April 7, 2002


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced today that the City will undertake a four month feasibility review of the potential reuse of the elevated 'Highline' railway in order to make a final determination whether the City should support plans for demolition of the railway structure or promote efforts to convert the structure into an elevated public greenway. Mayor Bloomberg asked Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff to oversee the project.

The Highline elevated railroad structure extends from Gansevoort Street to West 34th Street and Eleventh Avenue, crossing City streets at numerous intersections. The structure was built as part of an effort to remove dangerous street-level freight trains from New York City streets, and last saw service as an active rail line in the 1980s. Over the past two years, property owners with real estate holdings along the Highline have sought to finalize plans to demolish the structure. At the same time, community groups and local elected officials have proposed that the Highline be preserved in order to create a public open-space amenity that will stimulate economic growth.

"Over the past several months, we have heard many competing arguments about the future of the Highline," said Mayor Bloomberg. "However, a careful analysis of the economic, land use and other implications of reuse versus demolition still needs to be done. For that reason, it makes good sense to take the time and effort to give the subject a close look, and to carefully consider the pros and cons of preservation and demolition before making a decision on this important issue."

Deputy Mayor Doctoroff also announced today that the City will appeal a recent lower court decision which held that demolition of the Highline would require review under the City's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure ("ULURP"). "We decided to appeal because we believe the lower court was incorrect both in determining that ULURP review was needed in situations such as that presented by the Highline and in ruling that the Highline is part of the City Map," said Deputy Mayor Doctoroff.

The City has retained Turner Construction to evaluate the structural integrity of the Highline and its viability for reuse from an engineering standpoint. The Friends of the Highline, a non-profit group formed to preserve the Highline for adaptive reuse, has agreed to fund a study that will analyze the costs of rehabilitating the Highline structure and building an elevated greenway with public access points along the route.

The study will also examine whether preservation and reuse of the Highline would be consistent with sound growth and development of the West Side, and will estimate the overall financial and other costs and benefits to the City of preservation versus demolition. The study will be conducted by the consulting firm of Hamilton, Rabinowitz & Alshuler, Inc. (HR&A), working in consultation with the Department of City Planning and the Economic Development Corporation. The City will review the results of these studies and evaluations in making a final determination.

Contact: Edward Skyler / Jordan Barowitz
(212) 788-2958