The nonprofit trust managing the financially struggling Hudson River Park has identified a possible solution to its problems. Building 800 apartments and a 150-room hotel on crumbling Pier 40, the park’s prime commercial asset, offers the best chance to raise the funds to keep the five-mile ribbon of park above water, according to an internal study that sources have shared with Crain’s.

The study, commissioned by the trust, explored a range of options for Pier 40 with an eye toward identifying ones that would produce the most revenue with the least amount of traffic. It comes at a time when the park’s bank account is quickly dwindling in the wake of two successive years of budget deficits.

Without an influx of cash, the park will exhaust its reserve fund in less than three years. Meanwhile, roughly $118 million is needed just to make basic repairs to Pier 40, a nearly 15-acre expanse with ball fields and a 775,000-square-foot building that holds offices, sports facilities and a parking garage. Last month, most of Pier 54, about 18 blocks north, had to shut down because it was in danger of collapsing. Pier 40 may need to close as soon as 2014 if there’s no new cash infusion. Meanwhile, nearly a third of Hudson River Park has yet to be built—a task that would require another $200 million.

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