The Trust for Governors Island (The Trust) today announced the next chapter in the transformation of Governors Island into a year-round vibrant destination in New York Harbor. The Trust announced at a meeting of its Board of Directors that it has designated three tenants for its historic buildings. The new tenant announced today is a day spa that will be open year-round to the public. In addition, the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Art Center at Governors Island, two existing Island tenants, will expand. The Trust also announced that for the first time, Governors Island will be open seven days a week in 2014, tripling the public access season from 40 to 120 days.
The Island will be open from Memorial Day weekend through the end of September 2014.
Visitors will enjoy the expanded public season in conjunction with the opening of 30 acres of new park spaces on the Island. To help fund this increased access and operations, The Trust will introduce a ferry fare for Brooklyn and Manhattan ferries, charging $2 round trip for adults on all weekday ferries and on afternoon ferries on Saturdays and Sundays. Children will continue to ride free and senior citizens’ fares will be half price. Morning ferries on Saturdays and Sundays will continue to be free for all. There will be no surcharge for bicycles. The Trust solicited and received feedback from a group of Island stakeholders in November about the proposed tenants, expansion of the season and ferry fare.
The day spa, run by Quadratec QC Terme, will be open to the public. The spa will operate in three Island buildings and will feature indoor facilities and an outdoor courtyard for relaxation, and will offer a range of spa services. The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, a New York City public high school that currently occupies an historic building, will expand to an adjacent building, allowing it to grow its student body by more than 300 students. And Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Arts Center at Governors Island will expand to the lower level of the building it currently occupies, Building 110, to include additional artist studio space and a media lab, among other facilities.
“Governors Island is a tremendous resource for all New Yorkers and great progress is being made on the Island,” said Ronay Menschel, Chair of The Trust for Governors Island. “With the completion of 30 new acres of park, unprecedented investment in critical infrastructure improvements and the prospective new tenants announced today, Governors Island is fulfilling its goal of being a unique place with dynamic mix of activities and uses.”
The tenants designated today responded to a Request for Proposals (RFP) that The Trust issued in December. The RFP was for adaptive re-use of buildings within the Island’s Historic District. The Trust received 10 complete responses by the March 14, 2013 due date, representing a broad range of deed-compliant commercial, cultural and educational uses. The Trust evaluated those proposals with respect to criteria outlined in the RFP, including respondents’ qualifications and financial capacity, financial impact to the Trust, economic impact to the City, and compatibility with the vision for Governors Island as an extraordinary public resource with a vibrant mix of uses and activities. The RFP finalists were previously announced at a public board meeting and were also presented at the meeting of Island stakeholders in November.
These tenants will invest millions of dollars in landmark buildings located in the Island’s National Historic District, and will contribute to the goal of a year-round sustainable future for Governors Island. The day spa is the first commercial tenant for Governors Island. Together with the expansion of existing tenants, it helps the Trust achieve the goal of creating a vibrant, mixed use destination. The revenue generated from this commercial use will help fund Island operations and prepare the Island for additional tenancies in the future.
Today’s announcement is the most recent step forward in the Island’s development. This fall, The Trust completed construction on 30 acres of new park and public spaces, including Liggett Terrace, Hammock Grove and the Play Lawn. These spaces will open to the public in the spring of 2014. Construction on the next 10 acres of park, the Hills, is underway.
The Hills will be the crowning feature of the new park spaces. The four Hills will rise 25 to 80 feet above the Island, with a breathtaking 360-degree panorama of the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor and the Lower Manhattan skyline. They are scheduled to be complete in 2015.
“These organizations will make important investments in the Island and its historic buildings,” said Leslie Koch, president of The Trust for Governors Island. “With increased activity in the Historic District and more visitors than ever before able to use the Island and the new park spaces, Governors Island is becoming an ever more vibrant part of New York City.”
The Bloomberg Administration’s infrastructure investment has brought the Island into the 21st century and readies it for the expanded public use and other activities announced today. The capital program, which includes the restoration of potable water, upgrading of electric, telecommunications and maritime infrastructure, is well underway, remains on time and onbudget, and will be complete prior to new tenant occupancy.
In July, the Trust completed a re-zoning of the North Island for a variety of commercial and other uses. The re-zoning brought the potential uses of the Historic District buildings in line with permitted uses as outlined in the original federal deed of transfer of the Island.
“Today is a tremendous leap forward in the Island’s development,” said Susan Carey Dempsey, Executive Director of the Governors Island Alliance. “We are so pleased that next year, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers will have access to more of Governors Island’s green space than ever on more days than ever.”
The Island has become a lively and popular public destination, with close to 400,000 visitors during the 2013 season, compared to a mere 26,000 visitors as recently as 2006. Dozens of cultural and recreational organizations have taken advantage of the Island’s historic buildings and green spaces to present lively free programs to the public.
The tenants announced at today’s meeting include Quadratec Spa (Quadratec); the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School (Harbor School) and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC).
Quadratec (QC Terme Group) proposed a day spa open to the public that offers a broad range of spa services. The spa will include indoor facilities, an outdoor terrace and a light café in buildings 111, 112, and 114, former residential buildings on the northern edge of the Island. Quadratec is in partnership with the Colonnade Group, and the project will be based on QC Terme’s spas in Italy.
Urban Assembly New York Harbor School (Harbor School) is a 435-student New York City public high school serving grades 9-12. The school’s mission is to provide a college preparatory education built upon New York City’s maritime experience and instill in students the ethics of environmental stewardship and the skills associated with careers on the water. Since 2010, the Harbor School has been located in Building 550 on Governors Island. The Harbor School will expand to Building 555, an approximately
25,000 square foot building formerly used as housing for Coast Guard and Army personnel. Building 555 is adjacent to the school’s main location in Building 550. The school also recently opened its MAST center in Building 134, which supports students’ water-dependent activities. The expansion to 755 students not only enables the school to serve more high school students but also insures that the school has the appropriate scale of faculty, programs and facilities to support its unique and nationally recognized Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs.
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) is a 40-year old organization dedicated to advancing artists, transforming audiences, and catalyzing communities. In 2010, LMCC became one of Governors Island’s first two tenants, providing studio space to artists-in-residence and an opportunity for visitors to the Island to engage with artists and their work. LMCC will expand their current Arts Center in Building 110 on the northern side of the island to better serve artists, local partners, and public audiences. The Arts Center will include additional studio spaces, a media lab, exhibition spaces, and a screening
room. A visit to this Arts Center will stimulate conversations and ideas and foster an understanding of Governors Island as the artistic and cultural heart of New York City.
Tenants are expected to commence construction in 2014 with occupancy to follow.
Kevin C. Fitzpatrick has written and edited seven books with ties to New York history, including "The Governors Island Explorer's Guide" and "World War I New York: A Guide to the City’s Enduring Ties to the Great War." Kevin is a licensed sightseeing guide and has been leading walking tours since 1999. He resides in Manhattan.