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Neighbors Deliver Feedback On Seaport Progress, Hated Tower

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The full-on rebuilding of the South Street Seaport's Pier 17 is not expected to begin until early next year. That means another spring, summer and fall of a makeshift Seaport, which is still a patchwork of open businesses following Hurricane Sandy's wreckage in 2012. At a Community Board 1 meeting last night, reps from developer Howard Hughes presented plans to keep visitors coming this year while the passe mall is demolished in way of a new one designed by SHoP Architects.

Meanwhile, CB1 members were way more concerned with the 50-story hotel-cum-condo tower Howard Hughes wants to erect next to Pier 17. Hughes didn't drop any new info on the tower, but after the reps left, Seaport committee co-chair Marco Pasanella leaked as much as he could about the ongoing meetings of the task force on which he sits, formed to provide community input about the hated tower. Which wasn't very much.

Pasanella said the task force—created to forge a compromise between neighborhood residents, city officials, and the developer—is mainly in listening mode right now, digesting the history of the site and other important factors that need to be considered in order to put a modern tower near the historic district (the site is just outside of the designated historic district). "Nobody says this should happen or that should happen. We're just listening," said Pasanella. A board member not on the task force said that the full board is likely to oppose the building when it comes to a vote. "I think CB1 is clearly on board, as in to say our Seaport group, [that] we do not want the tower," said Paul Hovitz. "That tower would be a stake in the heart of the Seaport. And I'm trusting that that is not going to be bargained off for some fugazy affordable housing."

What can folks expect from the Seaport this summer? Last year, Brooklyn-based pop-up SmorgasBar helped keep the activity humming there with two bars, shipping container-boutiques, and a music stage. The pop-up isn't returning. But there will be about eight to ten food trucks and concerts will still be staged. "That whole experience of eating outdoors and meeting your neighbors and having the businesses come down, we want to bring back that energy for the summer," said Phillip St. Pierre, a Howard Hughes general manager. "It will be on par with what we did with SmorgasBar," he said. "We'll figure out how to do it even better."

There will also be a flower show of sorts starting this spring, signage to steer tourists towards the ships, movie screenings, and a fall ice rink like last year. St. Pierre also wants to decorate Front Street as one whole promenade. The board thought all this was fine, although when it comes to live music, one member advised: "You can turn your speakers to[ward] Brooklyn."

UPDATE: This story previously incorrectly identified the Seaport committee co-chair as Paul Viggiano. The co-chair is Marco Pasanella. Curbed regrets the error.
—Shannon Ayala
· Howard Hughes' Hated Seaport Tower Seeks Community Input [Curbed]
· All South Street Seaport coverage [Curbed]

Pier 17

89 South Street, Manhattan, NY 10038 Visit Website