Related joins banquet hall bash in park at Pier 57
The Villager 9/20/2006
By Lincoln Anderson
The Witkoff Organization is on the verge of partnering with The Related Companies in its effort to redevelop Pier 57 in the Hudson River Park.
Jim Capalino, a spokesperson for Witkoff, confirmed that conversations between Witkoff and Related have occurred.
At the end of April, Cipriani pulled out of a partnership with Witkoff under which Cipriani was to have operated a spacious banquet and catering hall on the 15th St. pier in Chelsea as part of $250 million project, dubbed Leonardo at Pier 57. According to Capalino, Giuseppe Cipriani, head of Cipriani, had grown frustrated at the slow rate at which the project was moving forward.
“Since Giuseppe Cipriani decided to leave the partnership and pursue other real estate opportunities, Steve’s been active in looking for partners,” Capalino said of Steve Witkoff, the organization’s chairperson. The spokesperson stressed, “Any partner that he brings in will be fully committed to public benefits and community amenities as part of the project. And, second, he’s never going to relinquish control of the project.”
According to sources, the two parties have already shaken hands on the deal and their lawyers are now working up a contract. A formal announcement is expected in the next two weeks.
Related, one of the city’s most active developers, is known for building projects from the ground up. Witkoff, on the other hand, is known for buying existing properties and upgrading them. Sources say Related would bring to the pier project its experience with retail tenants, as well as management of the design and construction process.
Capalino confirmed that conversations have taken place between Witkoff and Related. He said Gensler Architects remains the project’s architect and that the plan still includes a large banquet hall as the anchor tenant. Capalino said Witkoff is seeking a top banquet hall operator.
“Steven’s having a discussion with a variety of event operators,” he said. “It’ll be a company with a distinguished record of running event spaces — very experienced, in multiple locations.”
Capalino assured that Witkoff will present the plan to partner with Related for approval to the Hudson River Park Trust, the state-city agency that operates the 5-mile-long Hudson River Park.