The Landmarks Commission (LPC) unanimously approved the plan to redevelop the Tin Building in the South Street Seaport area into a seafood-themed market to be helmed by celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten Tuesday afternoon.
The Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC), which is developing the project, plans to dismantle, relocate, and reconstruct the landmarked building, which once complete will allow it to function like a fish market, just like the way it has in decades past, albeit a fancier one.
The reconstructed building will be located about 18 feet south east of its current location. The move is being carried for out for several reasons, according to the developer. First, it will allow them to make the building more flood resilient. Second it will be moved slightly away from the FDR Drive. This will no longer obstruct the view of the building, and the increased plaza space in front will make it more appealing to customers.
For the most part, the architecture firm, SHoP, and the developers told the LPC that they wanted to restore some of the historic characteristics of the building. A large number of the historic aspects were destroyed in a fire in 1995, and the building was further damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Reports emerged in the summer of last year that the Tin Building along with the adjacent New Market Building were in danger of collapsing due to the damage and deterioration they had experienced. The Tin Building was last occupied by the Fulton Fish Market, but that moved to the Bronx in 2005, and the building has remained vacant since.
Part of the redevelopment hence will also focus on reinforcing the structure and mechanics of the building.
The project has received considerable support from the likes of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, The New York Landmarks Conservancy, REBNY, and ABNY.
But the project has some key detractors as well including the Municipal Arts Society, the local community board and a local activist group, the Friends of South Street Seaport. Representatives from the latter voiced their concern that the developer hadn't yet presented a concrete plan for how the dismantling and rebuilding of the tin building would take place. What if the whole building was taken apart and the rebuilding process abandoned thereafter, one of the detractors questioned.
It was a concern echoed by the commissioners of the LPC, particularly its chair Meenakshi Srinivasan who asked that HHC work closely with her office to pin down the details of how the project would proceed.
"This building has sat vacant for years and practical issues require that it be reassembled," she said at the hearing. "The relocation allows for more public benefit, and I believe the preservation goals will be achieved through this project."
HHC owns several parcels in the South Street Seaport and most prominently it is also developing the massive retail project at Pier 17 (the Tin building sits at the base of Pier 17). Vongerichten will not only operate a seafood market from the Tin Building but he will also open a 10,000 square foot restaurant at Pier 17. The latter was already approved by the Landmarks Commission and the Pier 17 project is expected to be complete sometime next year.