The Howard Hughes Corporation presented development plans for the South Street Seaport Historic District during a Community Board 1 landmarks and preservation committee meeting last week, which included the construction of two 470-foot towers consisting of a mix of affordable housing units and market-rate condos as well as plans for a new building for the long suffering South Street Seaport Museum.
But it did not become clear to many committee members until the final 15 minutes of the nearly 5-hour meeting that the $50 million HHC said it would invest in the museum would not necessarily fund constructing the new headquarters plotted for the corner of John and South Streets. ...
Your recent story about the Howard Hughes (HHC) plan to build two new 47 story towers in the South Street Seaport relied a bit too heavily on the very slanted press release put out by HHC with the assistance of their high paid PR consultants. Not until the 8th paragraph did you report the key element making these buildings so controversial and inappropriate… that they are proposed to be built within the 10 block South Street Seaport Historic District.
Nor did you mention that nine prior proposals to build far smaller buildings in this special district characterized by 4 and 5 story buildings were all denied by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) because they would “dominate and overwhelm the neighboring buildings in this low scale district by virtue of its size” and “cause an abrupt change in scale within the district which would be disruptive of the district’s homogeneous quality.” The 12 story height limit agreed to in 2003 which would allow for a building at 250 Water St that would be properly scaled for this historic district, was supported by entities ranging from CB 1, local elected officials, the Downtown Alliance, EDC, the City Planning Commission, and the South Street Seaport Museum. If two 47 story buildings were proposed elsewhere in Lower Manhattan, no one would object just like no one objects to far larger supertowers going up a block or two outside the Seaport Historic District.
You also failed to mention that the Seaport Historic District has a special mechanism that allows for the transfer of unused development rights (aka air rights) to sites outside the Historic District that could easily generate far more affordable housing and funding for the Seaport Museum and for other needed local improvements than the HHC plan. That is a far better plan to assure the future of the Seaport Museum and Historic District.
— Paul Goldstein
To Jonathan Boulware, President of the South Street Seaport Museum:
Your urgent calls to save the South Street Seaport Museum has our community’s full support and attention. Together, we know we can assure the future of the beloved seafaring sanctuary. But we urge caution with the bedfellows that you and the museum’s Board of Trustees are choosing.
Time and again, New York City depends on unreliable outside investors to do what we should (and can) do on our own. The Texas-based Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC), is trying to secure approvals for a development in the South Street Seaport Historic District that includes two towers nearly four times taller than zoning allows. If approved, the development’s malformed plans for the full-block site at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge will have long-term detrimental consequences to the neighborhood, the city, and the nation.
You, along with the museum’s Board of Trustees, and HHC present a false ultimatum between maintaining the integrity of the Historic District and the future of the museum. Fortunately, there is an air rights funding mechanism already in place, and a community based plan (backed by Community Board 1) that provides a better solution to the museum’s dilemma.
Our Seaport Coalition has offered viable alternative plan(s) to revitalize the birthplace of New York City without placing a bullseye on this and every historic district. Our plan utilizes the already existing mechanism that moves unused Seaport development rights to sites outside the Historic District. It has worked well in the past and can surely be used now to help not only the Museum, but to also pay for other local improvements and create far more than the 100 affordable housing units promised by HHC. Our Seaport Coalition enthusiastically supports any development with deeply affordable housing that also respects the long-existing zoning of 120 feet in height. https://seaportcoalition.com/
The HHC plan for twin 47-story-tall towers would pierce the protected 10-block area, a living museum consisting of early 19th century 4- and 5-story buildings and cobblestone streets. These towers would dwarf the Brooklyn Bridge and dominate the district, stealing the air and sky city dwellers desperately need.
Please, Mr. Boulware, choose to work with the people who have tirelessly volunteered for decades to keep the museum running. We beg you to band with the community, not this untrustworthy developer, to keep the museum about the people, the history and the Seaport as a whole.
We insist that development at 250 Water Street conform to the zoning laws, and viable alternatives be taken seriously. Accepting the oversized project in the tiny and irreplaceable historic district is a bad bargain. It will squander public assets for the benefit of private developers. New Yorkers, and the Seaport community have integrity and grit enough to rebuild, protect historic places AND provide more accessible housing. Let’s face these historic times together.
— The Seaport Coalition
Thanks to the hard work and dedication of NYC's food loving city folks - the Fulton Stall Market is making through the pandemic, providing fresh locally produced food to the neighborhood AND supporting over 100 farmers and producers across NY State.
With the $160,000 grant from the USDA, the Fulton Stall Market will offer on-line ordering, virtual farm tours, food demonstrations and educational workshops by regional farmers, food and craft beverage producers. Sign up for their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and have your groceries / heat and serve waiting for you!
USDA Grant: https://fultonstallmarket.org/news
CB1 is on record opposing changes to the current zoning, and Wils encouraged the committee to stick to that position, saying a “huge precedent” would be set if the board reversed itself and supported higher zoning in the landmark district. “You have to consider whether or not the amenities that you are being offered here are worth doing a process of upzoning this lot,” she told the committee. “And what it means for landmark districts around the city.”
Schermerhorn Row -1980 . These six buildings were constructed between 1810 and 1812 by Peter Schermerhorn, a merchant and ship owner. Built on landfill that extended 600 feet from the original shoreline, they were used as storefronts on the ground floor, counting houses on the second, and storage on the third.
By mid-19th century, the seaport was the center of commerce in the city, as the Port of New York became one of the largest in the world. Schermerhorn Row would be converted into hotels and boarding houses to accommodate newly arriving immigrants and overseas merchants.
The state purchased Schermerhorn Row in 1974 and a landmark designation three years later halted any further encroachment of the financial district which had occupied most of the blocks as east as South Street over the past decade. The buildings were restored to their original 1810 design and repurposed for adaptive reuse including commercial space and exhibition areas.
Hoboken’s largest park will provide recreation and public space for our community. It will also be a fundamental part of Hoboken’s resiliency strategy by integrating green infrastructure and innovative stormwater management measures to mitigate flooding from rainfall events. The park will foster a healthier environment for all to enjoy.
The thing is, you're defending yourself not against rapacious developers; for the most part, you're defending yourself against another good thing, which is affordable housing or senior housing, or something like that. So your argument for the worth of your open space is diluted somewhat in comparison.
The Paris Cafe at South Street Seaport is no more. After being in business since 1873 and surviving the numerous trials and tragedies of history, including a comeback from Hurricane Sandy, it could not survive the coronavirus shutdown of the city.
look at this shadow study. Now imagine twin 400 ft towers in the Historic South Street Seaport. HHC can say that the lower portion fits in with the neighborhood, but the upper part is not invisible - those additional 80 plus stories will cast deep shadows putting much of the neighborhood in a perpetual cloudy day.
“It’s a unique and unusual place,” said David Sheldon, a sailor who mans the South Street Seaport Museum’s fleet. “You get off a train and walk into another century.”
Residents of a historic neighborhood have been trying to preserve its character as major building projects loom. Now the discovery of a 19th-century thermometer factory there has further complicated matters
If you haven't seen their interactive map... you should!
All we want is to keep what little bit of 'green' we have in the South Street Historic District. There is very little left!
National Trust For Historic Preservation
America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places® is an annual list that spotlights important examples of the nation’s architectural, cultural and natural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage.
As a decade of conflict about development at the South Street Seaport comes to a close, community groups in the area have united around a strategic plan for ensuring a viable future.
Proposed by the Seaport Coalition - an all-volunteer combination of Save Our Seaport, SouthBridge Towers and ChildrenFirst - the plan is aimed to meet a host of challenges: over-development, toxic remediation, historic preservation, cultural stewardship and climate change.
A parking lot near the South Street Seaport has come to underscore the tensions between area residents and real estate developers over the future of the neighborhood.
The Howard Hughes Corporation has expressed an interest in transferring development rights from three high-profile properties to 250 Water Street, which sits above the toxic remnants of a 19th-century thermometer factory.