Design rendering for Pier 55.

Barry Diller Claims Rival Developer Is Behind Obstruction to NYC’s Pier 55

According to the New York Times, Barry Diller, Diane von Furstenberg’s husband and a media mogul who has pledged to cover most of the cost for the construction of a $200 million cultural pier on Manhattan’s West Side, is claiming that lawsuits filed against the project by a civic group are being secretly financed by real estate developer Douglas Durst.

Once completed, Pier 55 will be a 2.7-acre island park that will boast of walkways that are fifteen to sixty-two feet above the water as well as multiple performance venues. The proposal for the cultural venue, which was submitted by the Hudson River Park Trust, a public benefit corporation with jurisdiction over the pier, was approved in 2014. Diller, who with von Furstenberg was the single largest donor to the High Line Park, plans to create a nonprofit to oversee performances that will be held at the park and underwrite the operating expenses for the next twenty years.

Diller’s suspicions were aroused after the City Club of New York, a group of New York residents who advocate for responsible urban planning, filed a complaint in 2015 after being largely inactive for years. One of the parties listed on the lawsuit is Tom Fox, who co-owns New York Water Taxi with Durst. The real-estate developer had previously served on the board of Friends of Hudson River Park, but was pushed out along with other members.

“The backer of all this is one Douglas Durst,” Diller told the New York Times. Although Durst did not comment when asked whether he was supporting the club, he acknowledged he did not like the project and said he was “in favor of the litigation.”

In June, a New York State appeals court granted a preliminary injunction, which halted work on the project after the City Club of New York argued against the project. Michael S. Gruen, president of the City Club, called the project “secretive and misguided” and said that if it were allowed to continue it could “potentially [damage] the environment of the Estuarine Sanctuary in which the island would be located.”

The State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division will hear further arguments on the project this week.