Community Divided Over South Street Seaport Development Plans

February 17, 2015 | Prachi Gupta

Residents of the South Street Seaport area can agree that the local historic district needs an infusion of cash and resources to help revitalize the area, but until they agree on the best approach, plans are seemingly stalled. The current issue, according to the New York Times, hangs on a high-rise building.

From the Times:

The owner, the Howard Hughes Corporation, has dangled what it says is a $300 million amenity package that includes rescuing the city’s financially ailing maritime museum, building a school and affordable housing, renovating the Tin Building and extending an esplanade.

But it is Howard Hughes’s planned 494-foot-tall condominium tower over the water at the foot of Beekman Street that has incensed local officials, a couple of civic groups, preservationists and some community residents.

Among the building’s supporters are Mayor de Blasio, whose office sees the building as creating “80,000 new units of affordable housing” and residents who want to see an immediate boost in the local economy. “You need the tower to be the economic engine to finance,” said resident Amanda Byron Zink.

Those who disagree including Manhattan borough president Gale A. Brewer and local councilmember Margaret Chin:

Ms. Brewer and Ms. Chin do not object to the idea of Hughes building a second tower, but said they were worried that the first would set a precedent that could eventually subsume the district. They would prefer to reject the new tower and let the city pay to rebuild the piers and erect a middle school, despite the cost.

“This is not a good project,” said Brewer. “Not for affordable housing, for the environment or for the resiliency of the area.”

(Photo: Jeffrey Zeldman)