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Out With The Old, In With The New On Governor's Island

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Governor's Island is beginning to tear down the old to make way for the very new. NY1's Monica Brown filed the following report.

A seven-story high rise, last used in 1996 as an apartment building for the Coast Guard, is one of four on Governor's Island that's being completely demolished to make way for 30 acres of new park land and public space.

The Trust for Governor's Island, a nonprofit corporation created by the city, is moving forward with its plans for the park and for some new tenants.

"It is a whole new resource for the city of New York," says Ronay Menschel, the chair of the Trust for Governor's Island. "It's 172 acres that, over time, will become an important recreational, education and even commercial space for the city. "

The Coast Guard left the island in 1997 and the federal government sold it to the city and state for $1. The deed stipulates that there can be no stand-alone residential housing here, but Trust officials say they could easily envision a mix of hotels or college dormitories on this prime real estate.

"Imagine what it would be like to come visit New York and have this incredible view of the Statue of Liberty, the harbor, at your doorstep and now this gorgeous new park," says Leslie Koch, the president of the Trust for Governor's Island.

Since the site is considered public space, interested developers will have to submit bids through the Request for Proposals process, which hasn't begun yet.

"It will happen in phases because in parallel with this work, not as visible as demolition, we're doing things like drilling a potable water pipe to Brooklyn and installing electricity and repairing the seawall, making the kinds of needed investments that government needs to make to take these beautiful 150 acres that we're responsible for and bring them into the 21st century," Koch says.

In the meantime, the island, which is a free, seven-minute ferry ride from lower Manhattan and with boats to and from Brooklyn, already sees some 25,000 visitors each weekend. Those visitors can take in art and photography exhibits, concerts, even a 5-mile bike path. The New York Harbor School is a high school on the island, one of three tenants already in place. Part of the park is slated to open next year.

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