The future of the aging Pier 40 remains very much in doubt.

Not long after the New York Economic Development Corporation (NYEDC) launched a competition offering $100,000 for the best strategies to save the rotting pilings of Pier 40 and other waterfront locations in Hudson River Park, the Hudson River Park Trust announced that it will begin a phased shutdown of parts of the pier as early as next year.

The NYEDC competition titled “Change the Course” invited companies to submit innovative ideas that would re-stabilize the pier and allow for further construction. The competition was announced on September 19 and is a partnership between the NYEDC and the Hudson River Park Trust.

But while the proposals are being developed, the Hudson River Park Trust group says it will  begin to close parts of the pier that are considered unsafe—starting with sections of the roof.

In a recent meeting, Trust president Madelyn Wils said that they can only afford to fix essentials for the next five years. Estimates to fully repair and maintain Pier 40 are approaching $120 million.

“If it was my decision right now, I would completely cut [Pier 40] off and say ‘Not one more dime goes into that pier, period,’” HRPT Board Chair Diana Taylor said about the Pier which generates about 40 percent of Hudson River Park’s revenue at a board meeting last week

Proposed plans for the facility have included reconstructing the space for residential housing, the development of commercial office buildings on the site and even a sports stadium to put the structure back in the black. But while the pier is one of the few in the park zoned for commercial development, its approved uses are extremely limited and past commercial proposals have been stridently opposed by residents.At the moment, it seems like the NYEDC’s competition may be the sagging pier’s only hope.

The competition is now in the Request For Expressions of Interest phase (RFEI) which is intended to identify factors that provide cost-effective solutions. The second phase will be a formal Request for Proposals.

The deadline for the RFEI is November 16th which might give the Hudson River Park Trust enough time to find a solution.

In the meantime, Trust officials say they need to make decisions about the rotting facility sooner than later. Money has been allocated this year to repair stairs that have been closed to the public, but there has been hesitation to fix the building’s roof until the scope of the work is determined.

So while the pilings continue to rot beneath Pier 40, its future remains very much up in the air.

–Gabriella Tutino