Forty buildings in the island’s historic district are being made available for lease for up to 69 years under a Request for Proposals issued last week by the Trust for Governor’s Island, a nonprofit organization in charge of the operations, planning and redevelopment of the island, where it owns 150 acres.
“The vision for Governors Island is a vibrant, publicly accessible, 24-hour community with a diverse mix of uses. The existing tenants and the wealth of public programming start to realize this vision, but the possibilities for the future remain wide open,” the RFP states.
In total, over one million square feet are available, according to the trust. The RFP seeks proposals for on the redevelopment of the buildings for commercial and nonprofit uses compliant with a 2003 agreement in which the city and state took over control of the island from the federal government, which used it as the headquarters of the U.S. Coast Guard.
“A variety of users are invited to apply, including universities and 6-12 schools, cultural institutions, performing arts organizations, and business enterprises. Both nonprofit and for-profit entities are welcome,” the RFP states.
Residential use is possible, but restricted. A hotel or conference center would be allowed, as would residential facilities associated with a permitted use, such as faculty housing or student dormitories for an educational institution, or a residential health care facility. The island, situated just 800 yards off the southern end of Manhattan, now has two year-round tenants: the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, a New York City public high school for 430 students, and an artist studio residency program managed by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (“LMCC”).
A free ferry runs from the Battery Maritime Building in lower Manhattan during the work week. On summer weekends, the public also takes boats from Brooklyn, Queens, and east Midtown. As the Island’s popularity and year-round uses grow, the frequency, hours of operation, and geographic coverage of ferry service will increase, according to the RFP.
“Governors Island is the centerpiece of our administration’s transformation of the city’s waterfront,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. “We have invested more than $260 million to update the Island’s infrastructure and build 30 new acres of park and public spaces. These improvements set the stage for this RFP which will continue to ensure Governors Island is a destination enlivened by year-round tenants and uses.”
Proposals may be submitted for any combination of the buildings, but not for a portion of a building. The minimum lease term is five years.
The buildings have been vacant since 1997 and “their conditions vary,” according to the RFP. Responses to the RFP are due on March 14.