NEW YORK (AP) — A proposed redevelopment of the city's South Street Seaport that includes a 50-story building, marina and expansion of the city's footprint was met with skepticism in its first public presentation before a community board in lower Manhattan Tuesday.
The plan for the Seaport, located in a historic district that was once a thriving fish market and commercial area along the East River, was created by developer Howard Hughes Corporation and SHoP Architects.
"What you're seeing today is a very preliminary plan," cautioned Chris Curry, a senior executive vice president at Howard Hughes, before a largely hostile crowd of about 100 at the public meeting called by Community Board 1. "We haven't figured everything out yet."
The developers have been negotiating with the city's Economic Development Corporation on the plan which still needs further approval, including from the City Council. Assuming everything goes smoothly, construction won't begin until the spring of 2015, Curry said.
The proposal would include a costly renovation of the 106-year-old Tin Building, the demolition of the currently uninhabitable New Market Building, expansion of the city grid to allow commercial traffic further east, the creation of a 30-foot wide esplanade, pavilions below the FDR Drive, a marina and some kind of mixed-use residential and commercial tall and slender tower.
The proposal also includes a yet-to-be-determined rescue plan for the financially strapped Seaport Museum and the sailing ships at Pier 17. It was first reported by the New York Times.
"You have to build enough square footage that generates enough revenue to pay for it," said Gregg Pasquarelli, a principal at SHoP Architects, of the controversial proposed tower. "And I'm not saying it's easy, it's hard and it's something we want to work together with the community to try and figure out the best way to do it."
Residents opposed to the plan feel the building would ruin the historic feel of the cobble-stone area and would obscure views of the nearby Brooklyn Bridge. They held signs that read "Don't Block The Bridge," and "Save Our Seaport." On a few occasions, they booed Curry and Pasquarelli and peppered them with questions and statements after the presentations.
Robert LaValva, founder of the popular New Amsterdam Market, who is locked in a dispute with Howard Hughes over operating the collection of vendors in the New Market building, said he said he didn't agree with the proposed project.
"You're not known to be the most honest and honorable people," he said.