Rendering of the proposed tower
Less than a week after it was revealed that the Howard Hughes Corporation paid $31 million for more than 300,000 square feet of air rights at the South Street Seaport, it looks like the entire $1.5 billion redevelopment project could be stalled. The overall plan would breathe new life into the downtown historic district by rehabilitating crumbling piers, preserving and finding new use for landmark buildings and constructing a 42-story waterfront condo tower at the foot of Beekman Street. And it’s this last point that has local officials, civic groups, preservationists and some community residents worried or downright angry.
The 494-foot-tall, SHoP Architects-designed tower has already been scaled back from its original 650 feet, but concerned parties still feel that the building would “obscure views of the Brooklyn Bridge and clash with the low-scaled, early-19th-century brick buildings that make up the 11-block seaport district, once the center of the city’s maritime industry,” according to the New York Times.
Rendering of the restored Tin Building
According to Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for Alicia Glen, the deputy mayor for economic development: “The administration has a strong interest in preserving the maritime heritage of the seaport, including the historic ships and the museum. We’re in ongoing discussions with the community and its elected officials, as well as the private developer, to see if we can achieve that critical objective and satisfy other priorities the neighborhood has raised.” David R. Weinreb, chief executive of Howard Hughes, said that his company’s goals align with this and that the condo tower would provide the necessary revenue to include community incentives like building a middle school, renovating the historic Tin Building, and creating a new home for the South Street Seaport Museum. But some elected officials, including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, say the developer needs to completely start over.
Rendering of the proposed esplanade
Howard Hughes has been meeting with concerned and/or interested parties for the past year, even forming their own group of supporters called Friends of the Seaport. According to a poll they conducted, 80 percent of local residents support the project. Whether or not that figure is accurate will surely come to light in the near future as the debate over the South Street Seaport and its controversial condo tower heats up.
Renderings via SHoP Architects
Neighborhoods : South Street Seaport