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PR- 052-06
February 15, 2006


City and State Have Committed Additional $60 Million to Maintain Historic Structures and Infrastructure

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Governor George E. Pataki today announced the issuance of a Request for Proposals (RFP) for visionary ideas to redevelop and preserve Governors Island, a 172-acre sanctuary in the heart of New York Harbor.  The Governors Island Preservation & Education Corporation (GIPEC), a subsidiary of Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), issued the RFP in order to solicit proposals from qualified individuals, corporations and other organizations that can take advantage of the uniqueness of Governors Island, and have the vision and expertise to connect the island to New York City’s future.  As part of the effort to rehabilitate the Island’s infrastructure and historic structures, the City and State are raising their contribution by an additional $30 million, bringing the total commitment to more than $120 million.  The Mayor and Governor were joined at the announcement by Deputy Mayor for Economic Development & Rebuilding and GIPEC Chair Daniel L. Doctoroff, ESDC Chairman Charles Gargano and architect Santiago Calatrava at the Battery Gardens Restaurant in Lower Manhattan, directly across from Governors Island. Calatrava was on hand to unveil his conceptual model of an aerial gondola transportation system that could create new connections between Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and Governors Island.

“New York City is home to dozens of world-famous landmarks such as Central Park, Rockefeller Center and the Statue of Liberty – and I firmly believe that Governors Island has the potential to join their ranks as one of the most popular destinations in the world,” said Mayor Bloomberg.  “Governors Island is a special place, and we must take this opportunity to preserve the Island’s historic buildings and create something extraordinary that will resonate across the globe and benefit New Yorkers for generations to come.  We are very fortunate that an architect like Santiago Calatrava, who recently moved his home to New York City, has offered his tremendous creativity to help New York conceptualize the aerial gondola.  Improved access to Governors Island is critical to its future viability, and this gondola represents one fascinating option among many that we will consider and the type of vision we are hoping to attract to this important project.”

“The RFP and the new funding commitments on behalf of the State and City are necessary to preserve the extraordinary historic buildings on the Island and to cultivate new parks and public spaces,” said Governor Pataki.  “The history and splendor of Governors Island offers a unique development opportunity for the creation of a world class landmark that can be enjoyed by all. Now all we need are visionary partners to come and work with us to achieve the extraordinary, and help cement the legacy of this picturesque treasure.”

“Governors Island is a truly unique site that requires the highest standards of development, producing nothing less than the site’s nearly limitless possibilities,” said Deputy Mayor Doctoroff, who is also chairman of GIPEC.  “Governors Island is the centerpiece of our efforts to transform New York Harbor, which, taken together with the extraordinary range of projects in Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island, will create the world’s greatest waterfront destination.”

The RFP issued today addresses the 150-acre portion of Governors Island administered by GIPEC, which is distinct from the 22-acre portion known as the Governors Island National Monument that is administered by the National Park Service.  The City and State anticipate development uses to be appropriate to the island and its waterfront location, and should promote the following goals:

  • Enhance New York’s place as a center for culture, business, education and innovation;
  • Preserve and adaptively reuse historic structures;
  • Create a public place and parkland for all New Yorkers;
  • Contribute to the vitality of New York Harbor and link to the surrounding waterfronts;
  • Promote environmentally sustainable development;
  • Achieve financial self-sustainability and provide maximum return to GIPEC for the purpose of supporting public benefit uses.

“When Governors Island is looked at within the context of other ongoing public development projects in New York city – Ground Zero, the East River Waterfront in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge Park – it presents an extraordinary opportunity to tie these projects together and stimulate public interest and access Lower Manhattan, Downtown Brooklyn, the waterfront and Harbor,” said ESDC Chairman Charles Gargano.

Responses to the RFP are due by May 10, 2006.  A short-list of respondents will be required to provide additional information during the summer, with a selection of finalists expected to be announced in mid-September.  The execution of conditional designation letter(s) with respondent(s) or respondent team(s) is anticipated by November 2006.  Once selected, the respondent(s) or respondent team(s) will work closely with GIPEC to refine a master plan and complete the environmental review process, including the preparation of the environmental impact statement (EIS), which is expected to take between 12-18 months.  Development can begin at the conclusion of the environmental review process.  Additionally, if a potential gondola or ferry stop linking Brooklyn Bridge Park to Governors Island are pursued, they would be analyzed in the Environmental Impact Statement that will be prepared for the Governors Island Project.

As part of the RFP, respondents will be required to provide for public priorities included in the federal deed restrictions and reaffirmed in the General Project Plan that was adopted by GIPEC and ESDC last month.  These include the preservation of historic structures and the creation of a 40-acre public park with a public esplanade around the island’s perimeter.  Additional information, including a PDF download of the RFP, can be found on GIPEC’s website,

Emblematic of the scale and scope of the development opportunity on Governors Island, architect Santiago Calatrava has provided on a pro-bono basis (with the assistance of STV Inc. and Leitner-Poma of America) renderings and related design work for an aerial gondola that could, if constructed, provide connections between Governors Island, Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan.  These connections would support not only visits to Governors Island, but could provide an additional transportation option between Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.  In addition, Rubenstein Associates has also signed on as pro-bono advisor to GIPEC to assist in the outreach for proposals.

“This is an opportunity to make something extremely practical and logical, which at the same time tries to inspire the imagination in a way that can happen only here, in New York Harbor,” said Santiago Calatrava.  “On a practical level, the design creates a new direct link to Governors Island for both tourists and Island workers from both Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.  The system is very light, using only three supports, none of which stands in the water, so the shipping channels are left completely open.  On the level of the imagination, the gondola cars will be round, so they are shaped a little like apples – and because they are transparent, they will offer a wonderful 360-degree view of the harbor.”


Stu Loeser/Jennifer Falk   (212) 788-2958


Joanna Rose (Governor)   (212) 681-4640

Yvette DeBow (GIPEC)   (212) 440-2205

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