By Henry Goldman and Katie Spencer

New York City moved a step closer to completing an 18-year-old plan for a waterfront esplanade around Manhattan after the United Nations Development Corp. agreed to pay $73 million for land to build offices, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

The transaction would provide cash to fill a one-mile gap between East 38th and 60th Streets, allowing runners, bicyclists and walkers to use a waterside pathway from the Hudson River in Washington Heights south to the Battery, and then north along the East River past Wall Street to 125th Street. Currently cyclists and pedestrians have to leave the path and use First Avenue and other streets on that midtown stretch.

Under the memorandum of understanding, reached after months of negotiation, the United Nations Development Corp., a public- benefit corporation separate from the UN, would pay $73 million to a specially created entity, the Eastside Greenway and Park Fund. It would receive part of Robert Moses Playground, just south of UN headquarters, where the world body has sought land to build an office tower.

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