Master Plan for the island...
Nickelodeon makes bid to run Governors isle
By ROBERT GEARTY
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Kids may one day get to frolic with SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer and Jimmy Neutron on historic Governors Island - or take a ride on an iconic Ferris wheel modeled after the London Eye.
Cable network Nickelodeon is vying to turn a portion of the 172-acre isle into a themed-resort complex, where kids would get their own rooms and go to breakfast with their favorite cartoon characters.
Nickelodeon is one of 10 bidders granted an interview about redevelopment plans for Governors Island, a former military base the feds sold to the state for $1 in 2003.
"The 10 we interviewed, clearly they are the ones we are exclusively focused on at this point," Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, chairman of the city-state Governors Island Preservation and Education Corp. (GIPEC), told the Daily News.
The 10 include developers with visions of building everything from a "CUNY University Village" or a recreation of Shakespeare's Globe Theater to an environmental research center with a 2-acre scale replica of New York Harbor.
Some of the plans for the prime East River site include proposals for parks, hotels, and even an amphitheater and aquarium.
The 10 developers on the short list were among 25 that submitted plans to GIPEC.
The other 15 bids - which include proposals for a 2015 Worlds Fair and an NYPD training campus - have not irrevocably been ruled out, Doctoroff said. But he made it clear the working list has been pared down.
Under terms of the selection process, GIPEC can cobble together a development team from combinations of the various proposals.
GIPEC sought plans from developers who wanted to redevelop the whole island, and those who only wanted to overhaul portions of the site or just specific buildings.
The corporation initially planned to announce its finalists by Sept. 13 and the winning developer or developers by the end of the year.
But GIPEC President Leslie Koch, who took over in May, said the date for selecting the finalists was being postponed. No new date has been set.
"That was a very aggressive timeline," she said of the September deadline.
Doctoroff said he was not concerned about the delay.
"We have a sense of urgency," he said. "On the other hand, any decision we make is going to last forever, so we want to make sure we make the right decision."
Before ownership of Governors Island was transferred during a Jan. 31, 2003, White House ceremony - after 203 years of federal ownership - the state agreed to a series of deed restrictions.
They required that of the 150 acres controlled by GIPEC, 40 acres remain parkland, 20 acres be used for education and 30 acres be used for public benefit. The island's other 22 acres are still administered by the National Park Service.
The restrictions also bar the construction of casinos, power plants and residential housing.
The 25 original applicants were discussed at a recent GIPEC board meeting.
Doctoroff told board members that officials had been "looking for extraordinary ideas" in its request for proposals.
He did not say if he felt that GIPEC had received any proposals of that caliber. "It's a little premature to reach any broad conclusions," Doctoroff said.
One civic leader had more to say. "The feedback I got is they didn't get the kind of proposal that would be a magic solution," said Al Butzel of the Governors Island Alliance.
Butzel said he was not surprised.
"I would have been pleased if they came in with two or three strong proposals and we saw the light at the end of the tunnel," he said. "But look, they got some proposals, and they'll try and negotiate a proposal that works."
Here's the short list of proposals being considered for Governors Island:
Nickelodeon Recreation/Miller Global Properties:
Development of a Nickelodeon Family Suites themed resort complex. The company presently runs a similar operation in Orlando, near Disney World.
Federal Development LLC/City University of New York:
Creation of a "CUNY University Village" and "Leadership Park" for 5,000-10,000 educators, students and staff with two hotels, research park, marina, theater library and a not-for-profit-run educational research center.
Industrial Realty Group:
Master development plan includes a conference center, hotel, amphitheater and a Ferris wheel modeled after the London Eye.
New Globe Theater:
Replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theater inside an old fort on the island, Castle William.
Harbor 360 Partnership:
Environmental research facility with a 2-acre scale replica of New York Harbor.
The Related Companies:
Master development proposal for the creation of a Global Health Center on the north side of the island and a conference center hotel, aquarium, park, concert shell on the south side.
Design proposal for a green community of arts, education, culture, hospitality, retail and entertainment.
Becker + Becker:
Proposal to redevelop two historic buildings, with a fitness facility on the top floor of one of them.
New York Harbor School:
Proposal to move the Brooklyn Maritime High School to Governors Island.
The substance abuse rehab agency would develop a "Phoenix Academy" for 170 teens.
Originally published on August 9, 2006