As was rumored last week, after six years of fun in the sun, city construction has killed the Long Island City Water Taxi Beach. The villain who slayed the beach? The need to build combined storm water sewer outfalls for the new Hunters Point South development.
Tom Fox, the company's founder, broke the news in a teary letter earlier today (below). Though the company tried to persuade the city to let them build a new beach just down the road—with "a nine-hole miniature golf course and a better volleyball court configuration!"—it was sadly not to be. The new plan for Hunters Point South includes a beach though, so this may not be the end of LIC beaching. In the meantime, this year the only Water Taxi Beaches will be on Governors Island and the South Street Seaport. Sort of.
At a Community Board meeting last night Fox announced plans to turn that apparently money-losing beach into an outdoor upscale German beer garden called Pier Garten. The restaurant's preliminary menu includes German staples like bratwurst, along with a range of beers. The biggest downer in that news? In making the switch to bratwursts and brews the space is going to lose the sand. Sigh!
Meanwhile, Harry Hawk of Harry's @ Water Taxi Beach had this to say about the news: "The whole project almost didn't happen because the location was supposed to be the 2012 Olympic Village. After that we knew it was always a temporary amenity. The Port Authority then and now EDC get a lot of credit for allowing it to happen. That there is a beach in the long term plans shows the real impact of Harry's @ Water Taxi Beach on NYC."
Want to mope about the news for a moment? Just look at how the beach looked in 2006! Also, we will never forget the QBQ BBQ we hosted there with A Hamburger Today way back in 2006 and in 2007. Oh, memories.
Here's the letter from Tom Fox announcing the end:
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Unfortunately, Water Taxi Beach must bid farewell to Long Island City!
Since we opened in 2005, over 240,000 people have visited Water Taxi Beach in Long Island City (WTB/LIC). This unique urban oasis of sun and fun provided a much-needed outdoor recreation space for the Long Island City community, helped to burnish the image of this redeveloping neighborhood and showcased the potential of our city’s waterfront.
WTB/LIC has hosted volleyball leagues; birthday parties; weddings; bat mitzvah’s; local school graduation parties, high school and military reunions; photo shots; social, civic and political fundraising events; DJ concerts; and even an episode of Top Chef.
WTB/LIC is an award-winning recreation space with a local, national and international reputation as a great place to kick back and relax while looking out at the most spectacular skyline in the world. WTB/LIC was voted “Best Place to Pretend you’re in Miami” by New York Magazine; described as “Imagination on the Waterfront” in a NY Times editorial.
The Guardian, in the UK, rated WTB/LIC as one of the “Ten Best Party Beaches in the World” and international press from Italy, Germany Australia, Japan, Spain, Argentina, Sweden and Brazil, among others, have touted Water Taxi Beach / Long Island City as an important place to visit when you’re in New York.
Last fall, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which is coordinating the construction of new Hunters Point South development, informed us that they needed to build combined storm water sewer outfalls as part of the new Hunters Point South development. They told us they needed WTB/LIC for to construct these outfalls and we that we would have to vacate the current location.
WTB/LIC serves real need for open space and recreation in the Long Island City and Sunnyside communities, has 42 seasonal employees (the manager and quite a few staff are Long Island City residents), has many local merchants and vendors who serve the Beach and WTB/LIC visitors would help increase ridership on the new East River Ferry Service that is scheduled to start in June. In addition, NYC EDC has been a very supportive landlord.
So we asked NYC EDC for permission to move this unique urban experiment to a vacant lot further away from the construction, just to the south of the existing parking lot. We developed a new design, expanding the Beach, adding a nine-hole miniature golf course and a better volleyball court configuration. The site has great views and a lot of open space.
Unfortunately, NYC EDC informed us last week that they couldn’t accommodate our relocation request, so we will not be able to open for our sixth season this year.
However, the new plan for the Hunters Point South waterfront includes a Beach so it appears that we had a good idea, which was widely embraced. We hope to have an opportunity to return to a Beach in Long Island City once waterfront construction is complete.
Borough President Helen Marshall has often said that WTB/LIC is a Queens’ cultural institution and we would like to thank her and all of the business, civic and political leaders who have supported WTB/LIC. Most of all, we would like to thank everyone who visited Water Taxi Beach / Long Island City and made it such a special place.
We have enjoyed the opportunity to do something meaningful for the community, the waterfront and our City. We hope that you will visit us at watertaxibeach.com and share your memories and photos of WTB/LIC on our Facebook page or sign up for our Newsletter to stay in touch.
We hope that you all have a great summer and can join us at one of our other waterfront oasis at South Street Seaport or on Governors Island.