The Long-Awaited Future Of Governors Island Is Almost Here
What should become of Governors Island?
For nearly two decades, the question has tantalized the city’s mayors and real estate developers, and largely eluded them. Since the federal government relinquished control of the former Coast Guard base in 2003, the island has been floated as the site of a casino, an amusement park, a convention center, and a supermax prison.
While those development dreams have languished, more and more New Yorkers have taken advantage of the unique urban retreat. Under the stewardship of the Trust for Governors Island, the spruced up park has offered essential cultural programming and more frequent ferries, along with 172 acres of minimally tamed wandering space — all of it located less than half a mile from the tip of Manhattan.
But the feral spirit of Governors Island was never long for this city. As it is with many of the city’s public parks, the plan has always been to shore up private resources to help pay for the island’s operations, and to ultimately secure it as a year-round destination. Already, a luxury campground has opened on the island. An Italian day spa is set to join it this summer.
After some fits and starts, the future of Manhattan’s largest development site is now coming into focus. Last week, the City Council voted to upzone the south end of the island, paving the way for nearly 4 million feet of new development, including office, hotel, and retail space near the current site of the abandoned military barracks.