The new face of a portion of Governors Island has been narrowed down to three proposals for its Center for Climate Solutions, Mayor Eric Adams announced Thursday — amid ongoing legal fights over the island’s rezoning.
Three final proposals have made the cut for the development of the research center, which will be tasked with exploring potential solutions to climate change and eventually located on the southern part of the island. The proposals, which were unveiled Thursday without identifying their respective authors, came from three teams spearheaded by universities that became finalists in December 2021.
The winning proposal is expected to be announced in 2023, according to Adams’ office.
“These finalist proposals reflect our bold vision for a climate hub that will train and employ the next generation of climate experts, not only creating economic opportunity for New Yorkers but also positioning us at the cutting edge of critical research and at the front of the line to benefit from the big ideas that will emerge from here,” Adams said in a statement.
The newly public renderings and overview of the final proposals were released against the backdrop of ongoing controversy over the southern half of Governors Island, which saw pivotal zoning changes approved by the New York City Council last year. Environmentalists and others had pushed back against the rezoning, the approval of which has laid the groundwork for new office, hotel, and retail space. The Trust for Governors Island has maintained that the main uses being proposed are for educational and research facilities.
A lawsuit filed in September 2021 by Robert Manning, a Lower Manhattan resident and a leading opponent against rezoning efforts on Governors Island, said the overhaul of the area’s zoning “violates both the letter and the spirit of the deed” that originally transitioned federal ownership of the island into local control for the price of $1.
The agreement specified certain restrictions that included preserving public access and maintaining the island’s historic character for educational purposes. Manning’s case is ongoing in Manhattan Supreme Court, and has cast a pall over looming development plans.
But the Adams administration has continued to forge ahead, including the climate center among several economic recovery efforts announced this year. Proponents of developing Governors Island say it’s essential to maintaining the land, pointing to city subsidies that have fallen short of staving off a deficit for the trust.
Among the groups whose proposals have made the final cut is a team led by Northeastern University, which has partnered with Fordham University and a slate of other institutions. Another proposal was from the group led by Stony Brook University, which has teamed up with other schools, nonprofits, and businesses, including General Electric.
The remaining charge is helmed by CUNY and the New School, which have partnered with Columbia University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, among others.
Each of the proposals outlines broad visions for the climate center, which all touch on education and researching the changing climate.
This story has been updated with additional photos and information.