The Howard Hughes Corporation is moving forward the redevelopment of Pier 17 in the South Street Seaport, but residents have come out in full force against the developer's plans for the rest of the area. In November, Howard Hughes revealed its scheme, which includes moving and restoring the historic Tin Building, demolishing the New Market Building (former home of the Fulton Fish Market), and erecting a 50-story SHoP-designed tower and marina in its place (rendered at right). At a Community Board 1 meeting last night, residents continued to voice their opposition.
Residents are strongly opposed to the tower because not only will it obstruct views of the Brooklyn Bridge, but they argue that it's completely out of context with the neighborhood, which is characterized by three- and four-story buildings. As a result, board members are coming out ahead of the changes and insisting on a "collaborative process" with Howard Hughes to ensure that residents don't "feel cheated" like they did after the first round of changes were approved. In the spirit of this collaboration, a Town Hall meeting was held last week where the public got to voice their concerns about the project and present their own wish list for the Seaport. Last night, the board summed up some of the major themes that came out of that meeting.
Among them, residents simply do not want a tower—even if it includes affordable housing as Howard Hughes has suggested. In an effort to gain "greater control for how things can be built," CB1 wants to get landmark status for the New Market building, which sits in the only section of the South Street Seaport that doesn't have the designation. This would make it very difficult to build a high-rise tower at the site. The landmark application has been rejected in the past but board members are hoping that a new landmarks commissioner will vote favorably the next time around.
Residents also don't want a "mall experience" at the Seaport and want to preserve the "historic character of the neighborhood," which would mean preserving the South Street Seaport Museum and its ships. The biggest theme that emerged however, was the need for the community to determine the development of the site. Diana Switaj, director of planning and land use for CB1, said, the whole process needs to be "more bottom-up than it is now."
To that end the community board is planning to create a task force with all the stakeholders, including representatives for Howard Hughes, NYC Economic Development Corporation, and city council members to come up with a more concrete wish list for the site's revitalization. With this current plan, Howard Hughes has pledged $50 million to rebuild the crumbling piers, and $45 million to move the Tin Building out of the flood zone and restore it.
For all the talk of teamwork however, Howard Hughes representatives were present but silent at last night's meeting, and residents didn't hesitate to fill the void. It seemed after months of a process where community members felt marginalized, they were eager to take the helm. It's going to be difficult this time if they [HHC] want to build, said one resident, "The community has an advantage at this point."
· 50-Story Tower By SHoP Revealed For South Street Seaport [Curbed]
· South Street Seaport [Howard Hughes Corp.]
· All South Street Seaport coverage [Curbed]
· New Market Building coverage [Curbed]