Crowds gathered Friday for the grand opening of the Hudson Yards project, including the massive 2,500-step Vessel sculpture that provides scenic views of Manhattan. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
March 15 (UPI) -- With 1 million square feet of retail in 100 stores plus public art and parks, the $16 billion Hudson Yards in New York City officially opened Friday.
Grand opening ceremonies are scheduled throughout the weekend that include concerts and other performances. This is phase one of a larger $25 billion project that is scheduled for completion in 2025.
Hudson Yards is the city's largest private real estate development. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg initiated the project six years ago with the extension of the IRT Flushing subway line.
"It's not every day you get your hands on 26 acres of virgin land, so to speak, and you can start with a blank sheet of paper and that's what we did," Jay Cross, president of Related Hudson Yards, which developed the project.
The crowning jewel is the 52-story skyscraper called 10 Hudson Yards. It officially opens May 31. The 150-foot Vessel is the centerpiece of the Hudson Yards Public Square and Gardens with 154 interconnecting staircases, 2,500 individual steps and 80 landings that provide views of Manhattan's West Side.
The project also features New York City's first Neiman Marcus and high-end restaurants like D&D London and Momofuku.
The project includes a mix of 1,300 new or permanently preserved affordable residential units. More residents means more traffic in the Holland Tunnel and the Lincoln Tunnel to the north.
Phase 2 of the project will include more towers, a school and other elements. By 2024, the project is expected to have more than 125,000 residents, visitors and office workers there each day.
Firefighters union President Gerald Fitzgerald said he is concerned there is no fire station in that area and firefighters already are "stretched thin."
Fitzgerald wrote a letter expressing his concerns to Mayor Bill De Blasio, but said he did not receive a response. He is particularly concerned about the 88-story residential tower called 15 Hudson Yards that will have 400 units.
"More people, more emergencies," Fitzgerald said. "If we're out the door more often, that means there's less availability" to answer calls.
Related Companies told Business Insider that it's been working closely with the Fire Department of New York, but it's ultimately a city decision.
"We don't control the siting of firehouses," the company said in a statement.