The City of New York has acquired the third and final section of the High Line from CSX Transportation, Inc., a major step toward completing the vision of preserving the entire historic elevated railway and transforming it into public open space.
CSX has donated the rail yards section to the city, just as it did for the High Line structure south of West 30th Street.
The transfer of ownership clears the way for design and construction on the final stretch of the elevated rail viaduct to extend the High Line park to West 34th Street.
Design of the rail yards section is underway, and construction is expected to begin later this year.
“The transfer of ownership of the final section of the High Line marks a monumental step toward our goal of opening the entire elevated railway to the public,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“In the three short years since the first section opened as a park, the High Line has become a treasured neighborhood oasis, a significant generator of economic activity for the entire city, and a celebrated icon for planners, designers, and leaders around the world. Transforming the final section of the elevated railway into public space will complete the vision – something that seemed all but impossible just over ten years ago.”
Michael Ward, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of CSX Corporation, said, “We view the donation of the High Line as not simply a transfer of ownership, but a contribution to the vitality of the area, and we are thrilled that the entire length of this iconic rail structure will be available for the public to enjoy.”
Since it originally opened in 2009, the High Line has been an almost instant hit, generating billions of dollars in private investment in the surrounding area.
With the eventual opening of the entirety of the High Line, Economic Development Corporation chairman Seth Pinsky said the area will continue to attract new businesses and generate economic activity.
CSX Corporation, based in Jacksonville, Florida, is one of the nation’s leading transportation companies, providing rail, intermodal and rail-to-truck transload services.
In 1999, CSX commissioned a study for re-purposing the High Line from the Regional Plan Association that included the possibility of enrolling the viaduct in the Federal “Rails to Trails” program, which would later become the legal framework for transforming the High Line into public open space.
In 2005, CSX and the City of New York entered into a Trail Use Agreement for the High Line, and CSX donated the High Line south of West 30th Street to the City. Taken together, these two actions effectively preserved the High Line and led the way for it to open as a public park in 2009.
The rail yards section of the High Line represents one-third of the entire historic freight structure, and runs for one-half mile north of the current High Line park, wrapping around the West Side Yards, an active rail yards used by the Long Island Rail Road, bounded by West 30th and West 34th Streets to the south and north, and 10th and 12th Avenues to the east and west.
The LIRR storage yard is the site of the future 26-acre Hudson Yards mixed-use neighborhood being developed by Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group, which will include more than 12 million square feet of new office, residential, retail, and cultural space, as well as 14 acres of public space.
Wrapping around this new development, the High Line will be a fully integrated open space within Hudson Yards, connecting this new neighborhood with West Chelsea and the Meatpacking District, while providing an historic link to the industrial history on Manhattan’s West Side.
The City of New York and Friends of the High Line are working with High Line Design Team of James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Piet Oudolf to create the design for the High Line at the rail yards.
The third and final section will extend the park that is currently open to the public. Initial design concepts were released to the public at a community input meeting in Chelsea in March, 2012.
The City rezoned the area around the High Line in 2005, and the combination of the rezoning and the park has helped lead to $2 billion in private investment, 12,000 jobs, 2,558 new residential units, 1,000 hotel rooms, more than 423,000 square feet of new office space and 85,000 square feet of new art gallery space.
Since the first section opened in June of 2009, the public park has welcomed more than eight million people, comprised of nearly equal proportions of New Yorkers and out-of-town visitors, making it one of the most highly visited public parks in the city.
Under a license agreement with the City of New York, Friends of the High Line raises funding from private sources to support more than 90 percent of the public park’s annual budget for staffing and day-to-day maintenance and operations, as well as public programming and outreach to cultivate a community around the park.