(Corrects first paragraph to say United Nations Development Corp. would purchase the land, not the UN.)
Oct. 5 (Bloomberg) -- New York City moved a step closer to completing an 18-year-old plan for a waterfront esplanade around Manhattan after the United Nations Development Corp. agreed to pay $73 million for land to build offices, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
The transaction would provide cash to fill a one-mile gap between East 38th and 60th Streets, allowing runners, bicyclists and walkers to use a waterside pathway from the Hudson River in Washington Heights south to the Battery, and then north along the East River past Wall Street to 125th Street. Currently cyclists and pedestrians have to leave the path and use First Avenue and other streets on that midtown stretch.
Under the memorandum of understanding, reached after months of negotiation, the United Nations Development Corp., a public- benefit corporation separate from the UN, would pay $73 million to a specially created entity, the Eastside Greenway and Park Fund, for part of Robert Moses Playground, just south of its headquarters. UN officials have sought the land to build an office tower there.
“Today’s agreement puts in place a critical missing link
-- the last major gap in the Manhattan Greenway -- that will make the waterfront a resource for the whole city to enjoy,” Bloomberg said in a prepared statement.
Should the UN decide to go forward, Bloomberg said, it would expand an institution that’s already one of the city’s largest employers and create jobs. The Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo permitted the city to sell part of the one-acre playground in July.
The city would also reap hundreds of millions of dollars for the esplanade from the sale of United Nations Plaza, two city-owned buildings where the UN rents offices at below-market rates, the mayor said.
The playground’s sale would pay to improve St. Vartan Park, about five blocks south of the UN, to compensate for the loss of part of the playground.
The East River Esplanade, a continuous bikeway and walking corridor with parks and playgrounds, extends from Wall Street north featuring low-energy-consuming lighting, recycled materials and low-maintenance planted landscaping.
It is a link in the 32-mile Manhattan Greenway, a project permitting cyclists to circumnavigate Manhattan, mostly along its waterfront, and part of a citywide initiative to develop and increase public access to the city’s 520 total miles of shoreline.
The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News’s parent, Bloomberg LP.
--Editors: Mark Schoifet, Pete Young, Christine Maurus
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