Community Board #1 Landmarks Committee
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
St. Paul’s Chapel (Fulton Street and Broadway)
6pm to 9pm
“South Street Seaport, application by Howard Hughes Corporation for South Street Seaport, application for alterations to Tin Building, Schermerhorn Row, Pier 17 and East River Esplanade, demolition of the Link Building, construction of pavilions under FDR Drive and new building on Pier – Presentation and possible resolution”
Make your voice and those of your neighbors heard at the Community Board #1 Landmarks Public Hearing, a critical moment to SAVE OUR SEAPORT!
The developer Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC) is spending millions of dollars on a public relations campaign that spins a false story that a Seaport Tower is the “price that we must pay” to save the museum, build a middle school, etc. Yet HHC has a “sweetheart deal” that pays less than $3.50 per square foot (“psf”) in rent to the City while then charging its retail tenants hundreds of dollars psf more. This should be more than sufficient to fund HHC’s corporate social responsibility to give something back to the community.
HHC went before the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 2013 with Pier 17 plans to add exterior glass. Everyone was caught by surprise when they demolished (instead of rehabilitating) the pier and its structural elements. Now HHC seeks to demolish additional buildings and put up a canopy roof for a special events concert facility that is mostly closed to the public but will bring more noise and late night traffic to its neighbors.
By “segmenting” their applications, they have successfully avoided a public review of what Pier 17 and their design for the Seaport will ultimately be. Their plan for relocating an historic (TIN) building is a terrible precedent, as would be replacing the New Amsterdam Market with five glass boxes under the FDR Drive. Adding a service road that crosses a bikeway and destroys the New Market Building makes a 42-Story Seaport Tower possible along the waterfront.
HHC is looking to downsize the South Street Seaport Museum fleet by reducing piers available to historic ships, and by evicting its maritime collection in Schermerhorn Row for affordable apartments (as the price to pay for the Mayor’s support for a Seaport Tower).
They have not yet made any such deal with the South Street Seaport Museum and HHC should not be allowed to assume such a deal until the Museum retains all of the useful and historic uplands space that it needs to house and display its maritime collection, to expand its educational mission, and the Museum retains sufficient waterfront to berth visiting ships in addition to its current fleet.
Similarly, the Department of Education has NOT approved a zoned Middle School of any size in a Seaport Tower, the State of New York has not approved HHC replacement of piers and platform, and the Landmarks Commission turned down a previous attempt to move the TIN Building.
Wednesday we will need to stand up and be counted in favor of the South Street Seaport Museum, the Waterfront, the Market, and the integrity of the Seaport Historic District. We need to show New York that we do not accept these last years of half-truths and evasions. Together, Wednesday night, we will be part of the public opposition that Howard Hughes Corporation meets as it tries to advance its plans.