For immediate release:
May 17, 2021 CHRISTOPHER MARTE, CANDIDATE FOR CITY COUNCIL IN DISTRICT 1, ISSUES STATEMENT ON 250 WATER STREET LAWSUIT
I’m the only candidate that has been working with the community against this development at 250 Water Street from the beginning. The Howard Hughes Corporation had a clear plan for this site, and no amount of environmental hazards, neighborhood opposition, or zoning restriction seem to discourage HHC, or the City of New York, from reconsidering their plans. I strongly support this lawsuit because it’s not up to the Landmarks Preservation Commission to take anything other than landmark preservation into consideration. HHC is trying to make a profit off of the South Street Seaport’s unique history, while at the same time working to undermine it. Using cultural institutions as bargaining chips for development deals is a corrupt practice that the City should not tolerate. Funding for MOCA should not have been contingent on acceptance of the new jail in Chinatown, and revitalizing the South Street Seaport Museum should not be inextricably linked to building a luxury high-rise in a historic district. The limited number of affordable housing units that HHC is offering is also a slap in the face to housing activists like myself who have been fighting for greater affordability in Lower Manhattan for years. Smearing my friends and neighbors in the Seaport for being opposed to 250 Water Street because it would provide a handful of affordable units is disgraceful, and shows just how desperate HHC is to try to discredit the community that has the true interests of the neighborhood at heart. I hope this lawsuit is successful, and have the proven track record on this issue that voters can trust. I would support a very different kind of development on this site.
"As a career urban planner, I always carefully study a proposed development from every angle to determine whether a project meets the needs of that community. You name it, and this tower is terrible in every way: on waterfront resiliency, height, and luxury focus — not to mention the Howard Hughes Corporation has stated its mission is to 'control cities'. The Seaport will lose out if this project moves forward in this historic community. We need responsible development and truly affordable housing and leaders who are not afraid to stand up to Big Real Estate in pursuit of those goals. I support the community’s lawsuit.”
NY DAILY NEWS READERS SOUND OFF ON DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT
MAS testified before the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Department of City Planning on January 5 and 11, respectively, urging the agencies to reject the latest proposal for 250 Water Street. In addition to concerns about appropriateness within the historic district in terms of design and scale, MAS has fundamental problems with the proposed development from a policy perspective, particularly regarding the transfer of City-owned development rights upon which the project depends. MAS recognizes the need to develop the project site, but the principles that have been embodied in the City's zoning policy action for more than 40 years must be respected. The current proposal at 250 Water Street has the potential to drastically change the unique historic and urban design character of the area.
NY DAILY NEWS READERS SOUND OFF ON DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT
Jeffrey A. Kroessler, president, The City Club of New York
We were disappointed to read your knee-jerk editorial (“Keep building,” Dec. 26) supporting the inappropriate, out-of-scale, and quite likely illegal 470-foot towers proposed by the Howard Hughes Corporation for the South Street Seaport Historic District. The design has nothing to do with the area’s historic architecture; there is more to appropriateness than a brick facade. The site at 250 Water St. was included within the boundaries of the historic district designated in 1977. It was vacant even then, which meant that the Landmarks Preservation Commission intended to regulate whatever new construction was proposed. Second, the lot was rezoned in 2003 specifically to prevent the out-of-scale development now proposed. Clearly, the city intended to limit height and bulk there. Howard Hughes is requesting approval from the LPC for a building that cannot be built without a zoning variance, which has not been granted. Finally, this proposal calls for the unprecedented transfer of development rights from within the historic district to another site in the district. The legality of this maneuver is doubtful.As tempting as a $50 million donation to the South Street Seaport Museum may be, it is, alas, irrelevant to the question before the LPC. Would that the city had generously supported this worthy museum instead of starving it. And would that the city listened to its citizens rather than serving special interests. Jeffrey A. Kroessler, president, The City Club of New YorkReaders sound off on downtown development, Dawn Wells and cop accountability - New York Daily News (nydailynews.com)
Thank you for the opportunity to testify regarding Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC)’s proposal at 250 Water Street and 89 South Street. As an elected representative of the South Street Seaport, I am writing to express my concern in awarding a Certificate of Appropriateness to this project that lies within the Historic District.
The South Street Seaport is foundational in the narrative of New York City and its historic district allows residents and visitors alike to experience this rich heritage. The South Street Seaport serves as a unique record of our collective history, from our nation’s earliest beginnings to the trade and commerce that grew our city and country into what they are today. To be clear, the current use of space at 250 Water Street as a parking lot does not advance the goals or narrative of this historic district and has not since its original designation in 1977. I welcome development plans that respect the historical appropriateness, scale and character surroundings of this important part of New York City’s evolution.
The proposed development for 250 Water Street would allow for two 470-ft towers, whose extensive size and scope would be more than triple the height limit permitted within the hard-fought existing zoning regulations, thereby rendering this proposal completely out of context for this unique district. I appreciate that as part of its proposal for these high-rise buildings, HHC would provide substantial funding to the South Street Seaport Museum at 89 South Street.
I am a staunch supporters of the South Street Seaport Museum and am committed to securing the long-term health and prosperity of this vital institution that connects our modern city with its historical maritime beginnings, and that has played an instrumental role in preserving that history for future generations. I join with Community Board 1 and local residents in encouraging the City to explore all potential solutions that assist with funding the museum. However, Certificates of Appropriateness must be based on preservation of historic character and appropriateness, not for the financial benefit of individual organizations.
I therefore urge the Landmarks Planning Commission to preserve the integrity of this Historic District by centering its decision on the appropriateness and historic merits of the project. I appreciate your consideration of my remarks.
“New York City would not be the cultural and financial capital of the United States if not because of its port, and it all began at the South Street Seaport. That rich heritage is worthy of continued preservation, and any development must address that heritage along with the concerns of local community members and organizations”, said Congressman Jerrold Nadler.
"The Seaport Coalition and their work advocating on behalf of the downtown families, seniors, and businesses that call the neighborhood home is a model for what community partnership should look like. They have educated, organized, and mobilized to ensure that community voices are centered in all decisions made about the Seaport's future. I fully support the Coalition's efforts to maintain the history, integrity, and vitality of the Historic South Street Seaport, including abiding by the current zoning limit that this community fought so hard for"
“... Howard Hughes' project at 250 Water Street has not adhered to thespecial zoning at the South Street Seaport Historic District... Even REBNY,who represents large scale developers, has said that historic districts likethe South Street Seaport need to be preserved ...it is a historic district thathas specific rules that need to be followed."
I stand strong with our community and urge the Landmarks Preservation Commission to reject this application. I have been against this project from the very beginning and I echo the concerns and issues that have been highlighted by our local Manhattan Community Board 1 and other community stakeholders in its recent resolution as well as testimonies submitted by the Seaport Coalition, other community groups and our residents. It is the will of our community to preserve the historic district and, while the community is open to repurposing the parking lot, it is certainly not within the vision of our residents to have two megatowers soar over our neighborhood.