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After changes, Trump gets Messinger okay.

Brandishing a 100-page report, Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger said she gives a green light to Donald Trump's Riverside South project as a result of changes "won" by her office.

Despite a missed night's sleep, Messinger appeared at a press conference animated and confident that through her negotiations she had brought the concerns of the community to bear while encouraging an important project for New York City's economy. Two community boards, however, would later claim the modifications are "modest" and that many issues have been left unresolved.

Change in the plan came in the form of legally-binding concessions agreed to by Trump, no stranger to the price of developing in New York City.

The alterations are contained in a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Messinger, Trump and Richard Kahan, head of the Riverside Planning Corporation, a non-profit corporation comprised of Trump and six civic groups that formerly opposed the project. "We are doing this because of the changes this plan has undergone," beamed Messinger, in her office, before a gathering of press, concerned citizens and representatives of "interested parties."

The developer will kick in $5 million for the rehabilitation and expansion of the 72nd Street subway station, which the project will depend on. This, Messinger boasted, has helped "break the log jam" on much-needed renovations at the station, which is the same size it was in 1904. Messinger said she received a letter from Mayor Dinkins notifying her that the station has been placed in the MTA's next capital plan.

Trump will allocate 20 percent of the project's residential units, which now number 5,700, for a mix of affordable housing, assuming the presence of government subsidies. If such public funds are not available, the developer will provide an internal subsidy of 10 percent for affordable housing.

A pact was reached to lower the streetwall range of the project from 135 to 165 feet to 125 to 150 feet to make it more consistent with the rest of Riverside Drive.

In response to sewage concerns, the developer pledged not to further burden the North River Water Pollution Control Plant. The developer will either help fund a retrofit program to install low-flow devices in existing buildings that use the North River plant or build an onsite treatment plant. In addition, no hook- ups to the North River plant can be made until the Planning Commission confirms that the plant's capacity is sufficient for Riverside South and other projects in the city's 10-year capital strategy. And all major litigation pending against the plant must first be resolved.

The developer will also underwrite 50 percent of the maintenance of the new 21.5-acre river-front park that will be formed. He will also permit interim uses of the park immediately after current work on the highway is complete. The park will also be extended an additional 1.5 acres at its north end.

Messinger said the developer has also promised to ensure sufficient minority employment in the construction of the project and to reach out to the residents of neighboring areas.

The 76-acre project is envisioned for the former Penn Yards site on the Upper West Side along the Hudson River between 59th and 72nd Street. It currently contains: 5,700 residential units, 183,000 square feet of retail space, 163,400 square feet of medical or other professional office space, 1.8 million square feet of studio space, 300,000 square feet of general office space.

Trump, in a statement last week, called Messinger one of "New York City's great and most respected leaders" and said he was honored to have her support. While the Borough President's okay plays only an advisory role in the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), it is nonetheless coveted.

`Throw Out Studio'

While Messinger was not specific on what she did not achieve in negotiations, she said she urged strongly against the television studio component of the project. In light of the troubles the at industry is having and the availability of similar unused facilities in the city, she believes that idea is unfeasible. She also objects to the size of the proposed studio.

"It is much too big for the use it alleges to be serving," she said.

Mess inger said she suggested to Trump the building of an Olympic-quality sports training facility, an idea that was presented to her when she was on the City Council.

Andrew Breslau, Messinger spokesperson, said Trump's reaction was extremely positive.

`The developer was so enthused that he said he was going to pursue a feasibility study,' he said.

Trump, through a spokesperson, called the idea 'very interesting' and said he would look into it.

Critics of the Memo

The Borough President conceded that the project will still have its foes. The plan was adamantly rejected last month by Community Board 7, and last week Community Board's 7 and 4 issued a statement claiming Messinger "left to others the ultimate battles over the project's, bulk, the timing of the park construction, and the fate of the "white elephant' - the 1.8 million square foot designated for studio space.

"Some of that opposition is contingent on the plan getting better..., ' Messinger said, before the boards' statements were released. 'But some people will see this as not yet the whole loaf and they will be at the Planning Commission hearing on Sept. 9. There are some people who are opposed to any,. private development on the site. Those people will continue to be opposed. '

Messinger dubbed the project an 'experiment in civic cooperation.'

Trump originally presented the plan in 1986. After considerable opposition, he formed the Riverside South Planning Corporation, which he funds, with six civic groups: The Municipal Arts Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Parks Council, Regional Plan Association, Riverside Park Fund and Westpride.
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Title Annotation:Real estate developer Donald Trump's development project gets Manhattan Borough president Ruth Messinger's support following changes made to the apartment project proposal
Author:Fitzgerald, Therese
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Sep 2, 1992
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