South Street Seaport is One of America’s Most Endangered Historic Sites

June 24, 2015 | Prachi Gupta

Lower Manhattan residents have been trying to block development in the South Street Seaport for years, and now the real estate threats have become so severe that the National Trust for Historic Preservation has actually named the area among its “11 Most Endangered Historic Places,” DNAinfo reports.

The seaport, the Trust notes, is of significance not only for featuring “some of the oldest architecture” in the city, but also is “unique for its continuous relationship to the waterfront and its status as the focal point of the early maritime industry in New York City.”

According to organization head Stephanie Meeks, the upcoming development will endanger the district’s “character” and “block views” from the historic area:

“The proposed developments will have an overwhelming impact on the historic neighborhood, diminishing the Seaport’s unique relationship to the water and compromising the most intact 19th century neighborhood in Manhattan,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “If it were constructed on a pier jutting over the water, the tower would alter the character of the waterfront and block views of the Brooklyn Bridge to and from the historic Seaport.”

The proposed changes to the 11-block district include building a four-story mall at Pier 17 and a new luxury waterfront high-rise that will require the destruction of the Fulton Fish Market warehouse. As part of the proposal, the Howard Hughes Corporation has also put together a $300 million “public amenity package,” the New York Times reports, which will involve renovations of the Tin Building, additional funding for the maritime museum, and support for a school and affordable housing.

On Tuesday, the company announced that it would consider lowering the height of the condo tower in response to public outcry:

“In response to community concerns, we are exploring a significant reduction to the height of the proposed building on the New Market site,” Christopher Curry, senior executive vice president at Howard Hughes, said in a statement on Tuesday. “Our long-term vision for the seaport celebrates the area’s rich history by creating a vibrant seaport district while also preserving its historic fabric and architecture.”

(Photo: J J)