The Times editorial board calls Seaport development “smart”

Well, mostly. The Times, in its editorial supporting the upzoning of Soho as a mechanism to develop affordable housing, puts in a plug for the Howard Hughes Corporation’s plans for the Seaport, noting: “The proposal in southern Manhattan, in the Seaport area, would smartly build new housing, including affordable housing, on a site that is currently used as a parking lot.”

They fail to mention that the proposal is in a historic district and on a site that comprises 10 percent of said historic district.

The editorial board noted that affordable units should be built in wealthier areas, where the market units are priced higher and can therefore better subsidize the affordable units. They also note that affordable housing can to some degree desegregate neighborhoods; Soho is just 1.7 percent Black, by example, the editorial adds. (Though after running two newspapers in the South Bronx for several years, I can tell you that no one wants an upzone, even when it includes affordable housing — and for folks there, a big building is 14 stories.)

Some of those issues came up in last night’s hearing, which was called by board chair Tammy Meltzer at 10:45p — nearly five hours in — after the presentation by HHC and some public comments. It’s hard to tell what the exact numbers were from listening in, and where the majority of people fell in their opinions of the project, but there seemed to be a good dozen people supporting the Seaport, which will get a $50 million donation as part of the deal. (More on that later.) A few also argued that development of any size is better than a parking lot, which it has been since the ’70s, like McNally Jackson’s owner, Sarah McNally.

But others argued (like Grace Lee, a Peck Slip parent and one of the members of the Seaport Coalition) that the historic district is worth protecting and should not be sold for any price.

The board said it will hold another hearing on the topic in December, where hopefully they will dedicate a night to this and this alone.