In the News: More Intel on the Seaport Tower

••• Curbed has a report on last night’s CB1 meeting about the Howard Hughes Corp.’s proposed plan for the South Street Seaport (including the rendering above). So does the Broadsheet. And Anonymous filed a pro-development report in the comments on this post. TC beat reporter (who moonlights as an attorney) Daniel Gershburg had this to say:

There was a very, very large turnout for the meeting and many of the people were there to protest what Hughes had proposed. Initially, the Hughes rep, Chris Currey, was drowned out with boos and one woman literally almost got kicked out, but cooler heads prevailed. His answers were completely vague and he basically acted as if his being there was more of a favor than a requirement. Someone asked about how many units would be affordable housing. He had no idea. Someone asked if there was a chance he could swap this location (which is, literally, on the water). He had no idea. It culminated with someone asking about when the shipping containers, which were supposed to be temporary, would be moved. His response: “When they’re moved, they won’t be temporary anymore.”

Conversely, the rep from SHoP [the architects] conducted a truly wonderful presentation. He began by explaining how poor the condition of the piers are around that area, and how much work and money has to go into restoring them. He talked about the Tin Building, and how important it was to preserve, but, because of the new flood regulations, the Tin Building would have to be raised five feet (which you can’t do because it will smash into the FDR). They’re now looking at a plan that would set the Tin Building back 30 feet and perhaps add a floor onto it.  He also discussed making South Street more of a two-sided retail space by installing little stores/restaurants, etc., under the FDR on the eastern part of South Street. Finally, he discussing the huge building, and he basically said, “Look, we don’t have a ton of space to work with, and something has to bring in revenue.” The building may be anywhere from 30 to 65 stories high. They don’t know yet. He also discussed a proposed marina, which, to me, looks hideous. It’s bad enough we have the noise from the helicopters 24/7, but to bring in a marina seems so odd to me. And he mentioned people had asked for it, but it doesn’t seem plausible that these people would write in saying, “Say, where am I putting my sailing vessel in this scheme?”  At one point as he was speaking, a woman heckled him about going “back to Texas.” He stopped, looked at her, and said, “I’m a lifelong New Yorker and my family has lived in New York for eight generations. Don’t tell me to go back to Texas.” Again, great presentation which ended with a round of applause. He obviously enjoys what he does and they do in fact respect the area. They genuinely don’t know what they’re going to do yet, though.

The design ideas overall, I think, were well received, other than the huge building. People complained about a lack of input. Hughes claimed that they had sent out flyers, asked for meetings, etc., with residents, but a resident stood up and said she’d been living in the area for 35 years and never got so much as a phone call. Most people agreed. If Hughes had someone who knew what there were doing with respect to community outreach, I think it would have gone much smoother.

••• The Broadsheet on why so many of the esplanade’s street lights are out.

••• “Hudson River Park Trust president and CEO Madelyn Wils is suing a longtime rent-stabilized tenant in a bid to evict her and her children, get $30,000 in back rent and legal fees [….] Wils, former chairwoman of Community Board 1, and her husband Steven refused to renew tenant Marla Mase’s 30-year-old lease at 180 Duane St. in July—saying they needed the apartment for their adult son.” —DNAinfo

••• 113 Nassau will begin leasing soon. It’s called the Lara. —Curbed

••• Doobybrain posted a fascinating video of life in southeast Tribeca in 1991.

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  1. I am defending Howard Hughes Corp. NO ONE has offered to swap land with them so why should he even respond to that? If someone has land to swap, then bring it up and they will respond. Howard Hughes said several times throughout their presentation that they would have more concrete answers by the next Town Hall meeting in January, so once again, it isn’t fair to say that their answers were vague. This was simply an introduction of the plan. The real nuts and bolts will come in January. You know what WAS vague? The answers from opponents over how to deal with the rotting piers, the restoration costs of the Tin Building etc, without the income generated by the tower? Howard Hughes has no obligation or responsibility to repair the piers. If the answer is the city then that’s a waste of taxpayer dollars. I want $120MM+ for repairing the Piers and Tin Building to go to new schools for FiDi/Seaport resident than to pay to fix piers. If the choice were schools or piers; guess which one the neighborhood would pick? Yes, there are lots of questions, but it looked to me like Howard Hughes was willing to work with the community. The response from many in the crowd was just NO! Just like the Tea Party. No wonder NIMBYS have such a terrible reputation.

  2. The video is amazing. Thank you for posting it. Not a lot of archival footage focuses so well on my immediate blocks. Much looks exactly the same, then suddenly…tokens!

  3. One more thing, I LOVE the Containers! They ARE temporary! They will be removed when the retail in the Uplands reopens. What is so hard to understand? Seriously. This is why NIMBY’ism has such a terrible connotation. The containers are a great interim solution to a serious problem and they are temporary.

  4. So Madelyn Wils is trying to evict a rent-stabilized tenant while also trying to get a new HRP tax passed, based on a ridiculous street grid, on residents that already live in a city, that according to the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, in the fiscal year 2009-2010, New York City residents paid about $4.1 BILLION MORE in taxes than they received in government services. You’re a true American, Madelyn, I hope at next year’s HRP Gala they choose to honor you and your “trendy” glasses, shimmery dress, and heart of tacky gold for trying to evict a family of 3, so your “struggling” son has a decent place to live overlooking Duane “Park.” Maybe Hugh Jackman can also give your poor son an endless supply of free lattes from Laughing Man Coffee. I’d hate to see him have to walk all the way to Starbucks. Good on ya.