Call it the Little Island that could.
Following a half decade of red tape, lawsuits and other roadblocks, the futuristic, two-acre park of the same name "floating" in the Hudson River at Pier 55 is beginning to take its final shape, as evidenced by reports on CityReality and 6sqft. Both sites posted photos showing the arrival of the plantings that will transform the park into NYC's newest—and undoubtedly coolest—green space. Cranes can be seen lifting into place some of the 35 species of trees that will make up the park's landscape, along with 65 species of shrubs, and 270 varieties of grasses, perennials, vines and bulbs, according to the Little Island's web page. Everything appears on track for a 2021 opening, but, much like the foot paths that will meander through the park’s scenery, it's been a long and winding road.
Conceived in 2013 after Hurricane Sandy, the park, which also features an amphitheater, was the pet project of billionaire Barry Diller and his wife Diane von Furstenberg. When unveiled at the Cooper Hewitt in 2015, the plan by English designer Thomas Heatherwick envisioned an undulating configuration created by a series of "pods"—concrete pilings formed into tulip-shape supports—set at varying heights. The effect was meant to evoke a "leaf floating on water."
As is standard in NYC, however, the $250 million project was met with legal action: a lawsuit underwritten by real estate developer Douglas Durst for the City Club, which led to the cancellation of the park's building permit in 2017. But later that year, Mayor Bill de Blasio brokered a deal between Diller and Durst, and construction resumed.
So, like many NYC landmarks that were realized after overcoming adversity, Little Island will soon take its place as one of the city’s iconic destinations.
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