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September 07, 2016

Diller Claims Fellow Business Titan Is Behind Pier 55 Fight

Media mogul Barry Diller, who has pledged $130 million to build a new park and performance space on the Hudson River, alleges in The New York Times that another city business mogul is bankrolling a court battle to block the project. Mr. Diller claimed real-estate tycoon Douglas Durst is backing the effort by City Club of New York, a small and little-known civic group that opposes the proposed Pier 55 park, due to a dispute involving another nonprofit.

Mr. Durst is a former donor to and board member of the Hudson River Park Trust, which has partnered with Mr. Diller on Pier 55, but he left in 2011 amid an internal dispute over the trust’s direction. He declined to say whether he is financing the City Club lawsuit but said in a statement about Pier 55 that “I do not like the process or the project and I am in favor of the litigation.”

City Club argues that the trust did not conduct a proper environmental review of Pier 55, which is to be built atop pilings driven into the riverbed, and should have solicited proposals besides Mr. Diller’s to replace the rotting pier now at the Lower Manhattan site. The organization won an injunction earlier this year blocking construction of the new park pending a ruling in the case. The two sides were in court Tuesday arguing the matter before a panel of appellate judges, The Wall Street Journal reports.