POPs at 200 Water Street
The final sentence sums it up very well "As it stands, owners on Water Street already get to profit off of the bonus floor area created by POPS; they will now collect rents on the new storefronts, too. For that, Goldstein said, “The developer is getting a lot and the public is getting less.”
THE POLITICS OF LOWER MANHATTAN Curbed July 2019
A 10-minute walk from 7 Hanover, 200 Water Street commands frontage on Fulton Street at the gateway to the South Street Seaport. Original owner-developer Melvyn Kaufman dressed up an otherwise unremarkable 32-story glass box (also by Emery Roth & Sons) with a giant light-up digital clock (still there) and a scalable white scaffold structure that opened into the building’s second-floor public area. A small fountain bubbled alongside primary colored metal chairs; at one point, Kaufman installed a likeness of himself on the seating (it was later removed because visitors found it unsettling). The building and its POPS date to 1971, a few years before the city required the spaces to be furnished with seating, fountains, and other amenities. The year it opened, 200 Water Street’s inventive public spaces landed it on the covers of at least one magazine. For all this, the builders got to add almost 34,000 square feet of floor area to their project.
In the 1990s, Rockrose bought the quirky building from the Kaufman Organization and converted it to residential. Fast forward to today: The Fulton Street-facing sculpture is gone and the soon-to-be-renovated arcade is naked. Rockrose claimed that the elements were too damaged to repair, while advocacy groups like the City Club of New York contend demolition-by-neglect. Regardless, the developer has approval from the city to enlarge existing apartments into the almost 1,800-square-foot second-story POPS and fill in almost all of the 3,000-square-foot public arcade below to augment the store of the main ground floor tenant (currently Duane Reade), and provide one new storefront for a future retail tenant.
Rockrose’s Paul Januszewski, the point person for the POPS conversion, stayed tight-lipped through a dozen attempts at contact. A spokesperson from Rockrose also declined to comment on the project. A representative from MdeAS, the New York firm Rockrose hired to expand the building into the POPS and add amenities near a Starbucks, refused to provide details on the design and their involvement in the project.
Before any groundbreaking, all POPS changes require approval from DCP, specifically the City Planning Commission. 200 Water Street earned DCP certification already, but plans that correspond with the POPS renovation have yet to be filed with the Buildings department.
A DCP spokesperson offered the following statement on the future project: “200 Water Street exemplifies the benefits of the Water Street POPS text amendment, which will facilitate the creation of newly-designed, high-quality public space with seating, trees, and artwork as well as new ground floor retail and dining opportunities for the residents and workers of the Financial District.”
While the Water Street rules are a done deal, Goldstein maintained that there are better ways to enrich POPS without slashing the public’s share of plazas and arcades. She suggested that one-off concerts, attractive seating, nice lights, and good maintenance could enliven POPS without claiming major square footage for commercial use. Even one small cafe—like the one at 590 Madison Avenue, for example—may activate a space without sending mixed signals about its public-ness in the same way a row of enclosed stores might.
As it stands, owners on Water Street already get to profit off of the bonus floor area created by POPS; they will now collect rents on the new storefronts, too.
For that, Goldstein said, “The developer is getting a lot and the public is getting less.”
This was adopted BUT NOT for the Seaport???
In 2018, amidst growing concerns, Mayor de Blasio asked the Department of City Planning (DCP) to examine excessive voids used to raise residential tower heights in predominantly residential areas:
Overriding the 120 ft height limit would set a terrible precedent, both in terms of what it would bode for future development requests in this protected area, and for undermining hard-fought for protections that can be dismissed when public assets become bargaining chips set against one another.
According to the plans, 250 Water Street will rise 89 stories with 1,038,950 square feet divided between commercial, hotel, and residential components. The ground level will have 47,820 square feet of commercial space and the second through fifth floors will have a cumulative 179,370 square feet of commercial space.
The hotel will span 156,800 square feet across the seventh through 22nd stories. Residential space takes up 608,630 square feet from the 24th through the 87th floor. Mechanicals will occupy 46,330 square feet on the sixth, 23rd, 88th and 89th floors.
There has been much speculation about whether the full-block development could reach super-tall status with the transfer of 700,000 square feet in air rights, which would make it the tallest structure in Lower Manhattan, after One and Three World Trade Center, with diagrams indicating a total height just shy of 1,052 feet.