On Thursday, the Hudson River Park Trust decided that the Intrepid Museum will continue to pay the same rent for its home on Pier 86 that it did in the 1980s — $1 a year — for the next three decades. That sweetheart rent deal was first offered by the city (Intrepid’s original landlord) when the maritime museum opened in 1982 for being a “valued cultural institution.” But it could have gone the way of butchers in the Meatpacking District after the local community board pushed to raise the rent to market rates earlier this month.
The new 30-year lease does include some costs for the museum to shoulder: The Intrepid has to pay for structural repairs to Pier 86, which will cost around $224,000 over two years, and expand its pier deck by 4,020 square feet, which will cost $6 million. But as the community board argued in a letter sent to the Hudson River Park Trust, the museum could afford to pay much more in rent based on its $34 million in total revenue (according to 2018 tax filings).
The museum opened Thursday after being closed for over a year, which left the once very financially healthy institution with quite a hole to fill: It’s expected to earn just a quarter of its 2019 revenue this year. Even with its wildly cheap rent cemented for another thirty years, it may still take some time to right the ship. “With a slow and gradual tourism rebound predicted, it could take as long as a decade for the museum to fully recover to pre-COVID levels,” said Brian Walker, a spokesperson for the museum.