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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 23, 2019

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Agreement With Related Companies To Increase Accessibility Of The Vessel In Hudson Yards

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Eric Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, announced today that Related Companies L.P. (“Related”) and ERY Vessel LLC have agreed to install a one-of-a-kind platform lift mechanism on the upper levels of the Vessel, a new public attraction in Hudson Yards, to increase the Vessel’s accessibility for individuals with disabilities.  Under the agreement, Related has agreed to design, construct, install, and operate a platform lift mechanism that will allow individuals with disabilities to traverse the stairways and platforms at the top levels of the Vessel so as to enjoy 360-degree views, providing access to the most traveled areas of the Vessel that are also currently inaccessible to individuals with disabilities.     

The United States contends that as constructed, the Vessel, a multi-story, open air structure composed of eighty (80) platforms connected by stairways, is inaccessible to individuals with disabilities in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.  Related has described the Vessel as the centerpiece of the new Hudson Yards development in Manhattan, and as a “public landmark” that “will lift the public up, offering a multitude of ways to engage with and experience New York, Hudson Yards and each other.”  But the Vessel’s current design allows individuals with disabilities to access at most only three (3) of the 80 platforms, all on one side of the structure, as the sole elevator reaches three platforms and visitors must otherwise traverse stairs to move among the platforms.  Due to the high demand for the elevator, Related has at times directed that the elevator bypass the platforms at levels 5 and 7, thereby rendering only one platform (at level 8) accessible to individuals with disabilities. 

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “We are pleased that Related has designed an innovative solution to increase accessibility to the Vessel.  Related has agreed to commit substantial resources to install a platform lift that will allow individuals with disabilities to enjoy 360-degree views from the Vessel’s top level.”

Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said:  “As we approach the ADA’s 30th Anniversary, it is vital that individuals with disabilities have access to major new tourist attractions in our cities.  I am pleased that Related is taking steps to increase accessibility of the Vessel.”

The agreement also requires Related to ensure that the elevator stops at levels 5 and 7 upon request, to operate the elevator on a pre-set, timed schedule, and to modify the Vessel’s ticketing reservation options to allow individuals with disabilities to reserve priority access to the elevator.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Rights Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellen Blain is in charge of the case.

Topic(s): 
Civil Rights
Contact: 
Jim Margolin, Nicholas Biase (212) 637-2600
Press Release Number: 
19-444
Updated December 23, 2019