$850M South Street Seaport project gets final approval

January 5, 2022

Photo credit: The Howard Hughes Corporation/SOM

The Howard Hughes Corporation last week got the official go-ahead from the city to build a mixed-use tower on a parking lot in the South Street Seaport. Originally proposed as a 1,000-foot-tall tower, the plan for 250 Water Street has changed many times over the last few years due to feedback from community groups and local officials, with the final result being a 324-foot-tall tower with roughly 270 apartments. The $850 million project is expected to break ground this year following remediation of the site.

Howard Hughes secured final approval for 250 Water Street after a deal was reached this fall for the developer to provide $40 million in air rights from nearby Pier 17 and the Tin Building for the Seaport Museum, as The Real Deal reported. The city has committed an additional $10 million for the museum.

The developer also said it obtained approval from the city to extend the company’s ground lease for city-owned properties at the Seaport to 99 years.

Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the 26-story tower will feature 270 rental apartments, including 70 that will be affordable, above a five-story base of office, retail, and community space. Originally, the proposal included for-sale market-rate units, but the developer said market-rate rentals will be offered instead, “to address the high demand for rental housing in Lower Manhattan,” according to a press release.

The affordable units will be available to families earning 40 percent of the area median income, which is roughly $45,000 annually for a family of four.

“This important project will play a vital role in New York City’s recovery through the creation of a new mixed-income rental building, office space, neighborhood infrastructure improvements, and critical funding to ensure the long-term success of the treasured South Street Seaport Museum,” Saul Scherl, president of the New York Tri-State Region for the Howard Hughes Corporation, said in a statement.

“We are firmly committed to a bright future for the Seaport neighborhood, and our 250 Water Street project is the heart of our vision for this vital and historic part of the City.”

The project was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission last May, after hours of public testimony and a design revision. Plans to develop the parking lot at 250 Water Street have come and gone in the last three decades. The LPC said it had rejected nine different proposals for the site over the last 25 years.

Preservationists and local community groups have campaigned against the project, claiming the building is out of scale with the rest of the historic neighborhood. The Seaport Coalition, a group of opponents to the project, filed a lawsuit against the LPC last summer for approving the project. A judge dismissed the lawsuit in October, as Crain’s New York reported.

On December 31, the Seaport Coalition announced it has filed a zoning challenge for 250 Water Street with the city’s Department of Buildings, claiming the developer used loopholes to work around zoning regulations.

“Our Seaport Coalition will not stand idly by while HHC circumvents existing zoning regulations and best practices in city planning,” reads an email from the coalition announcing the challenge. “Our public entities focused on development at any cost, have failed to protect the integrity of the low-rise South Street Seaport Historic District.”

Since signing a lease with the city in 2010, Howard Hughes has opened the Pier 17 complex, which has retail, restaurants, and rooftop event space. And the renovated Tin Building, formerly home to the Fulton Fish Market, will open this spring.


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