News broke yesterday morning that South Street Seaport developer Howard Hughes plans to construct a 50-story tower along the water beside Pier 17, and the reaction from the community is exactly what was to be expected. No one wants it. During the first of many community board meetings last night, residents packed the room with "Save Our Seaport" signs to voice their opposition. The proposal was called "gross," Howard Hughes was booed, and DNAinfo reports that the board ultimately voted to not support the project as it currently stands.
The proposal, which calls for a SHoP Architects-designed hotel and condo tower, more retail, a marina, and extended East River Esplanade, is "very preliminary" and will require a full public review process, with votes from the Landmarks Preservation Commission and City Planning, as it requires a zoning change. According to a press release from Howard Hughes, current zoning would allow for a 350-foot tall, 100-foot wide building, but they plan for a taller and slimmer structure to preserve views. During last night's presentation, SHoP principal Gregg Passquarelli said they "want to be incredibly transparent" with the plans during the review process, which contrasts greatly with Howard Hughes' desire to continue negotiating with the city in secret.
Residents said that the tower doesn't fit with the low-rise historic nature of the neighborhood, and they do not want the New Market Building to be demolished, which needs to happen to build the tower. The developer says that the tower will pay for the $125 million of improvements they have planned for the waterfront. Not only will they build out another portion of the esplanade, but the decaying piers will be rebuilt, the Tin Building will be fully rehabilitated (and moved out of the flood plain), and a marina will provide public water access with kayak launches, boat slips, and ferry berths. Howard Hughes will also save the financially failing Seaport Museum, along with its historic ships, but details about that are still unclear. Additionally, SHoP designed every piece to better protect the neighborhood (which suffered greatly during Hurricane Sandy) from future storms and flooding.
The next public meeting will take place in January, as a town hall where people can voice their opinions. The review process will occur throughout 2014, and it all goes as the developer plans, ground will be broken in early 2015.
· 50-Story Tower By SHoP Revealed For South Street Seaport [Curbed]
· Residents Boo Developer's 'Gross' Plan for 50-Story Seaport Tower [DNAinfo]
· Howard Hughes Corporation [official]