The Bloomberg administration says
Governors Island is the centerpiece
of its efforts to transform the city's
waterfront.

NEW YORK CITY-In what’s termed potentially the largest adaptive reuse project of historic buildings in the nation, the Trust for Governors Island has issued a request for proposals to redevelop more than one million square feet of space at Governors Island off Lower Manhattan.

The RFP calls for the adaptive reuse of more than 40 historic buildings owned by the trust located in the Governors Island Historic District that spans some 92 acres. Responses are due back by March 14, 2013 with a recommended site visit for firms interested in submitting an RFP to be held on Dec. 19.

The Trust for Governors Island was created in 2010 and manages approximately 150 acres of the island that was sold by the federal government in 2003 to New York City and New York State. A total of 22 acres is designated as the Governors Island National Monument, which is managed by the National Park Service. Prior to the sale, Governors Island was a military post and later used as a major command headquarters for the US Army from 1794 until 1966. For 30 years thereafter, it served as the Atlantic Area Command of the US Coast Guard. It now serves mostly as a seasonal tourist destination.

“Governors Island is the centerpiece of our administration’s transformation of the city’s waterfront,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg says 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.”

The RFP asks interested developers for input on the trust’s intent to have the historic buildings, circa 19th and early 20th centuries, redeveloped for commercial and nonprofit usage. The buildings run from a 4,000-square-foot former officer’s home to a 400,000-square-foot former barracks and administration building designed by McKim Mead and White.

Ronay Menschel, chairman of The Trust for Governors Island, says, “We expect this RFP will bring additional uses to the island, ensuring that it is a lively, year-round destination and resource for the entire city and region.”

Officials with the Trust tell GlobeSt.com the historic buildings did not suffer significant damage from Hurricane Sandy. The island is currently home to the New York City public high school The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School and an arts studio.

New York City broke ground in May on the first phase of the Governors Island Park and Public Space Plan, which was designed by the landscape design firm West 8. Construction has begun on 30 new acres of parkland on the island that include Liggett Terrace, a six-acre plaza with seasonal plantings, seating, water features and public art; the 10-acre Hammock Grove, and the Play Lawn, which totals 14 acres, that includes two turf ball fields. In addition, phase one of the plan also will feature a re-graded Parade Ground and visitor amenities, including lighting, seating and signage throughout the historic district.

In September, demolition work was initiated on four high-rise buildings in the historic district. The city’s capital program also has included infrastructure upgrades on the island to its electrical and telecommunication utilities systems, seawall and stormwater system and ferry docks. In addition the city is funding the development of a new water main and distribution system that will provide potable water to buildings in the Historic District, city officials state.

Building 844, a seven-story, 80,000-square-foot building built in 1957 for military personnel and their families on the western side of the island, has been completely demolished. Demolition work is now underway on four other buildings on the southern part of the island.