In the News: City to Wipe Clean the Landmarks Slate

••• “Every December members of the Manhattan Sailing Club collaborate with Project City Kids to construct a Holiday Train Garden on the upper deck of the Honorable William Wall, the MSC floating clubhouse which is moored in the harbor, near Ellis Island, during the summer and overwinters in North Cove.” —Broadsheet

••• Just appalling: “The Landmarks Preservation Commission plans to remove almost 100 sites and two historic districts from consideration for landmark status without formal public input, despite most being on the agenda for decades, officials say. […] Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for the mayor, said the process is aimed at helping LPC function better by clearing its ‘backlog’ of items, many which have languished on the LPC’s calendar for decades.” You don’t fix a backlog by erasing everything! —DNAinfo

••• Meanwhile, we’ll the LPC might yet save the clocktower at 346 Broadway before it’s completely neutered. —Tribeca Trib

••• A typically ham-fisted New York Post editorial about the proposed Seaport redevelopment.

••• Downtown Post NYC checks in with “the City’s Department of Records and Information Services’ massive project of digitizing its enormous collection of New Amsterdam and Common Council minutes for the period from 1647 to 1834. The collection includes the manuscripts of proceedings, resolutions, minutes, accounts, petitions, and correspondence from Dutch and English colonial governments and the English translations of the documents.”

••• Only just came across this lovely rooftop garden by Vanity Fair art director Julie Weiss and featured in Gardenista. Looks like it’s on Warren. Photo by Nicole Franzen, courtesy Gardenista.




  1. I fully support tonight’s meeting. There are many more supporters of HHC than you think. We understand that you can’t ask for everything and give nothing back in return. I have yet to see a real plan from anyone who opposes the Tower on how they will pay for a new pier and the rebuilding of the Tin Building? Who is going to fork over $125MM + without getting anything in return? The city has much more important things to spend money on than a pier. We need schools! We need affordable housing! We need Community space! We need a plan to preserve the Seaport Museum! HHC has offered to help on all of these fronts. Is it perfect? NO! But this is what we should be negotiating on. Without the tower, why on earth would they fork over ANY money? The only alternative to no tower is to simply let the pier fall into the east river, demolish the Tin and New Market Buildings and extend the esplanade up the river. I’m still waiting for an alternative VIABLE plan from the opposition.

  2. Here’s the best alternative, but the ship has sailed: Invite Chelsea Piers to open a recreational monolith, south-version, in the mall space. Expand it into adjacent buildings etc. Be a huuuuuge hit down here, esp with kid-explosion of last ten years.
    Interestingly, second best is the suggestion above, re: “let the pier fall into the east river, demolish the Tin and New Market Buildings and extend the esplanade up the river.” This sounds great. Then, build a park like the wildly popular one across the river — if you really want to raise your property values. I, for one, would not want to live next to a mall.

  3. Pier 17 is NOT up for negotiation. It is under construction and has nothing to do with the Tower. That ship did indeed sail long ago. I’m actually looking forward to the redesigned mall. I think it’s beautiful and, hopefully, the retail will actually appeal to area residents. I also love the idea of the rooftop restaurant and amphitheater/performance space. Regardless, it is being built. I also love tha that Fulton Market is being repurposed into a high end movie theater. :-) What is under negotiation is the whether the other pier will be rebuilt and the Tin Building moved and saved. So far I have not heard a single rational plan by tower opponents on how this gets paid for without the tower. Until i do we have two alternatives: The Tower (with the school/affordable housing/Seaport Museum funding/Community Space) or Nothing, but an expansion of the esplanade.

  4. Right, Pier 17 is not up for negotiation. But isn’t Howard Hughes building the mall on Pier 17? As in: again: what a missed opportunity. Could have been an indoor recreation palace, no tower-strings attached — and now it’ll be *another mall* for 1) tourists who won’t come, because even they know the diff between high-end and Century 21, and for 2) NYC residents who won’t bother because they like to avoid tourists or they either shop online or have malls in their own neighborhoods. With a 3) roof theater dependent upon weather (closed Nov-March, like any other outdoor venue. Plain stupid).

    The mall will fail just like the last one. Malls fail now, It’s what they do. They fail even in NYC. The business model failed. The movie theater’s nice, though. Although that business model is failing too.

    As for the tower -who cares? So a huge corporation doesn’t make buckets. That’s capitalism. It’ll lower property values anyway, with the increased car & foot traffic, etc (not to mention: who’d pay huge rent to live a stone’s throw from FDR horns & a long uphill slog to the subway?)

    But an expansion of the esplanade – anyone could use that. Even longtime residents. That would be phenomenal. Really. A flood-proofing park like those across the river.

  5. How many malls does downtown need? Pier 17, fulton, Brookfield place? Can tourists support 3 malls within a couple of miles of each other.

  6. Frank, I respectfully disagree. First: Pier 17 IS being built and will be a vast improvement over the awful mall that previously marred the site. Before you criticize the new mall why don’t you wait to see what tenants will be occupying it. I have no doubt the new tenants will appeal to local residents where the prior mall had no appeal whatsoever. Tourists will absolutely come. They still come NOW when practically nothing is there. The roof top restaurant and performance space is a great addition to outdoor dining and entertainment downtown. The new theater is a great example of the new demographic that HHC is appealing to. It will be the most luxurious theater in the city with full bar and restaurant inside the theater and all reserved seating. It’s a great addition to the neighborhood. As for the tower; a waterfront condominium which has tremendous river, bridge and skyline views will sell very well. I also have no doubt about that. And property values will RISE, not fall. Having 2MM sf of new retail in the neighborhood is a huge plus and people recognize it. It’s already happening.

    • Luis:

      I respect your comments on Pier 17, and I understand the whole give and take with HHC in a theoretical sense (I’m a Real Estate attorney and represent developers). Here’s why I think HHC plan is way of of whack:

      1. The Tower that will be built will be completely and utterly out of character with the rest of the area. Imagine you’re watching a movie, and the shot is beautiful, and then, out of nowhere, a person stands up and blocks part of your view. He just stands there, indefinitely. You “could” theoretically see the screen if you moved, but, it’s still kind of weird, given the fact that no one is standing there. And then what happens when one building is up? What’s to stop the second from coming up? And then the third? It never just stops at 1. That’s not how it works.

      2. I’m not sure how you equate “affordable housing” with this plan. My clients sometimes do this. They’ll promise the moon (remember Barclay’s) and deliver very little. The Tower, conservatively, will have hundreds of units. Maybe 20% of those will be “affordable.” Same goes for the other areas HHC claims it will build affordable housing.

      3. Who says you need schools here? You have the Blue School and a school being built on the corner of Pearl that is massive. I’m not aware of the need here, nor how that would tie in with HHC. Why can’t this be done without HHC? Why can’t HHC build a school and a much smaller tower that’s a little farther off? Why is it all or nothing?

      4. Can the City afford to throw a few hundred million to the Pier? No. It can’t. (Well., yes, it can, but I’d need a bigger comment section to explain…) But that doesn’t mean it’s HHC or nothing. I agree that no one seems to be coming up with a better idea. Here’s mine: Leave it alone. Leave it all alone. I’ve lived in neighborhood after neighborhood that’s been “developed.” You know what happens? Rents go through the roof. You begin to develop for the sake of development and it leads you nowhere. The South Street Seaport is beautiful. The small businesses that come and open up shop here are amazing. I don’t want a Chipotle in the name of development. I have El Luchador. I don’t want a Michael White restaurant. I have Barbalu and I can talk to the owner for hours. I know my dry cleaner. I say hi to people on my block on Front Street. You LOSE that with development. Why do we have to develop for the sake of development. If the Pier falls, let it fall. If the Tin Building sits unused for another 10 years, that’s perfectly fine by me. I want a neighborhood and that’s what I have. I don’t need a J Crew (although I love J. Crew). I have a neighborhood, and to sacrifice that because someone is going to “beautify” the place by putting a monstrous tower in the middle of a place that has some of the most gorgeous views in the City seems, at best, backward to me. Let the place thrive on it’s own. I promise you, it’ll be more beautiful than anything these guys can try and put together.

      My 2 cents.

      • The people who gave away our seaport, air rights and all should be called upon to explain. Someone sold the seaport that belonged to all of us.

  7. I can’t get past the feeling that “Friends of the Seaport” is a stealth PR move by Howard Hughes corp . Their website and message contained therein just don’t feel local and definitely not grass roots. Astro turf, I think.