HOWARD HUGHES CORPORATION NOW ADMITS IT HAS PLANS FOR
SCHERMERHORN ROW BUT WON’T SAY WHAT THEY ARE
|Landmarked Schermerhorn Row in the South Street Seaport.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
The Howard Hughes Corporation – the Dallas-based developer with long-term leases on parts of the South Street Seaport – is now angling to increase its leasehold and for the first time, is mentioning that landmarked Schermerhorn Row is among its desired plans.
Schermerhorn Row is a collection of buildings on the south side of Fulton Street in the South Street Seaport. The buildings, more than 200 years old, once housed the galleries of the South Street Seaport Museum, but the museum has not been able to reopen those galleries because electrical damage from Superstorm Sandy has never been repaired.
At Community Board 1’s Seaport/Civic Center Committee meeting on Sept. 17, Diana Switaj, CB 1’s director of land use and planning, said that the next step in the Howard Hughes land use application to the Landmarks Preservation Commission would pertain to the Tin Building, the pavilions under the FDR Drive and “potentially some areas of Schermerhorn Row.”
She said that Community Board 1 does not yet know what the details are.
Howard Hughes has to complete the Landmarks Preservation Commission portion of their applications before they initiate a ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, required when public property is transferred or altered) and so on Sept. 29, said Switaj, “the Howard Hughes Corporation will be presenting the contents of their Landmarks Preservation Commission application to the Seaport Working Group and then on Oct. 22, CB1 is having a special Landmarks Committee meeting for HHC to present their application to the Landmarks Committee with the Seaport and the Planning Committees invited for a recommendation from the Landmarks Committee. Then, after that, HHC has their Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing on Nov. 18.”
Howard Hughes had originally said they thought they would be ready to go to ULURP in the fall of 2014. They now anticipate that they will be ready to go to ULURP in the spring of 2015.
Michael Levine, former director of land use and planning for CB1 and now a consultant to CB1, said, “We do not yet know what’s in the application. We’ve asked them on several occasions but they haven’t told us.”
Levine said that he, Switaj and CB1 chairperson Catherine McVay Hughes, had had a conversation with Howard Hughes representatives about the reason for the delays in bringing information to CB1. According to Levine, the HHC representative said that Howard Hughes was waiting for the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) to give them the “go ahead,” which had not yet happened. “It is their property,” said Levine, “and one of the essential components [of any plan] is a lease for the property.”
“The final plan – we don’t know if it’s been approved by EDC yet,” he said.
According to Levine, the HHC application would be for the Tin Building, for the demolition of the Link Building, which is adjacent to Pier 17 “because they’re moving the public market into an expanded Tin Building – and for potential pavilions under the FDR Drive and something happening in Schermerhorn Row in some way – we don’t know exactly what the plan will be – all of which is in the landmarked district. These are not ULURP actions. They are only Landmarks approvals,” said Levine.
“What part of Schermerhorn Row are you looking at?” asked Michael Kramer, a public member of CB1’s Seaport/Civic Center Committee and a member of Save Our Seaport, a group of Seaport residents and businesses who are trying to save the historic seaport and its maritime heritage.
Both Chris Curry, executive vice president for Howard Hughes in charge of the Seaport and Adam Meister, a Howard Hughes vice president, were in the room when Kramer asked that question. Neither Curry nor Meister answered it.
- Terese Loeb Kreuzer