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NEW YORK CITY-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, first deputy mayor Patricia Harris, deputy mayor for Economic Development Robert Lieber and Governors Island Preservation and Education Corp. president Leslie Koch initiated the demolition of Liberty Village, a cluster of 10 buildings on the island’s southern end not built to City building code standards. The demolition of the three-story buildings, built in 1988 as housing for the Coast Guard, will provide access to half of the island never before open to the public, according to a prepared statement.

The demolition will create more than eight acres of new open space that will be available to New Yorkers next summer. In addition, the demolition will open up the island’s entire 2.2-mile waterfront promenade for walking and biking.

According to the City’s statement, the new amenities “will enhance the island as a destination for New Yorkers, after a record number of visitors this year.”

“From the South Bronx Greenway to Fresh Kills Park in Staten Island, we’re working to revitalize the City’s waterfront in all five boroughs–and open it up to the public,” says Mayor Bloomberg, in the statement. “But perhaps no place offers the unique setting or more spectacular views than Governors Island. Next year, we’ll open up the southern end of the island and create eight new acres of open space where New Yorkers will be able to picnic and play in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.”

The Mayor explains that as of now, design is underway for the future park. “The developments on Governors Island are a great example of New York City and New York State working together to important economic development projects,” adds deputy mayor Lieber. “Governors Island, together with Brooklyn Bridge Park, the East River Waterfront and Hudson River Park, is part of a new and expanding Harbor District area and an important part of our efforts to open our City’s waterfront and provide recreational opportunities for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers.”

The eight acres of open space that will be created after the demolition of Liberty Village represents one part of the open space development underway on Governors Island. Ultimately, the island will offer a total of 90 acres of publicly accessible open space. Last December, as GlobeSt.com reported, the City and State revealed the selection of design firms West 8 / Rogers Marvel Architects / Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Quennell Rothschild / Urban Design + to design three new open spaces comprising the 90 acres: a two mile Great Promenade along the water’s edge; a new major park located on the southern half of the island; and an improved park design within the northern Historic District. The Great Promenade and 40-acre park will provide places to relax, play sports and explore, all with a unique view of the Statue of Liberty, according to a release.

The design process of these open spaces began earlier this fall, with ongoing opportunities for public input, including a new blog, a survey, facilitated workshops and an exhibition on Governors Island. All ideas will be shared with the design team as they craft the park master plan that will be unveiled in the spring of 2009.

GIPEC president Leslie Koch says that by beginning demolition on Liberty Village, “we are taking critical steps to open the southern portion of the Island to the public and provide many more visitors with opportunities in 2009.” The demolition is the latest in a series of milestones for Governors Island. Construction began this summer on the building that will house the Island’s first tenant, the New York Harbor School. The school is scheduled to open in 2010. Two additional requests for proposals have been issued for artist studio space and a temporary dining and entertainment venue. These tenants will be in place by the spring of 2009.

In 2003, the federal government transferred control of Governors Island to New York City and New York State. GIPEC, a partnership of the City and State, is responsible for the planning, redevelopment, and ongoing operations for the island’s 150 acres.

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