While Seaport residents have been loud and clear about their opposition to a proposed 50-story tower in the South Street Seaport, adjacent to the historic district, city officials have been quiet about the plan, put forth by the Howard Hughes Corporation and first revealed a year ago. But at a press conference this week about a new school, Mayor Bill de Blasio answered questions from the Downtown Express about the tower:
"I don't have any philosophical prohibition in my mind about putting a tower next to a historical district—this is New York City. Throughout this city we have some extraordinary modern buildings right next to historic buildings. I don't think there's any contradiction." He continues, "By the way it's all case by case. The attitude we're going to take — I said before we need to have much more affordable housing. In some cases that's going to take taller and denser buildings, but it's always about the specific site." While he doesn't seem to have strong feelings about the tower, that's not the case with the beleaguered Seaport Museum. "I think the Seaport Museum is really crucial to the city and I think it has to be protected because this is how New York City became New York City. We're here because of the water, because of the maritime industry and I think it's really important future generations feel that—so protecting the museum in some form is something I care about a lot."
Downtown Express also reports that opponents of the tower are looking at ways that could move the tower to a different site entirely. Save Our Seaport organized a meeting this week, and Manhattan's borough president Gale Brewer and City Councilmember Margaret Chin laid out a plan that would transfer the unused development rights in the South Street Seaport Historic District to another site Downtown. The site in question is on Greenwich Street just south of the World Trade Center.
There are obviously a lot of challenges with this planmainly, the legality of transferring the development rights and whether or not Howard Hughes would even want to move to a different sitebut Brewer said there are ongoing "conversations" with the developer about these plans.
In the next month, we'll likely learn more, as Howard Hughes expects to unveil a modified plan by the end of the year to being the formal land use review process. The original plan called for a 50-story hotel/condo tower designed by SHoP Architects. It would be built on the site of the New Market Building, but the Tine Building would be moved and restored.
· De Blasio weighs in on Seaport tower & museum as opponents look for alternative sites [DE]
· Howard Hughes Expects to Move Forward With Seaport Tower [Curbed]