Howard Hughes revises plans for 250 Water

The Howard Hughes Corporation presented updated plans for 250 Water, after their original project — scheduled for the large, undeveloped parcel in the Seaport Historic District — failed to get nods from either Community Board 1 or the Landmarks Commission.

The new plan reduces the buildings by 125 feet in height and 200,000 square feet in bulk — it’s now 345 feet high with 550,000 square feet of built space — but still goes far above the zoning limits of 120 feet. As a result the CB1 Landmarks & Preservation Committee rejected it again at its meeting last week — saying the scale is “completely out of hand.” You can watch the presentation here on YouTube; start at about 40 minutes in.

This project will next go before the Landmarks Commission in April. If approved, the formal land use process will start in May with construction to start in 2022. If not approved, Howard Hughes will pursue a 300,000 square foot, 160 foot tall project on the parking lot, likely to include a mix of market-rate residential and commercial uses. With this plan, according to the presentation, the affordable housing goes away and the donation to the Seaport Museum is undetermined.

Some other details:

  • The base includes retail and commercial
  • The towers are residential, as before, with a total of 270 units, down from 360.
  • This iteration continues to offer significant support to the South Street Seaport Museum, but the figure is not specific
  • It now includes 70 units of affordable housing at 40 percent of AMI, down from 100



  1. The real story here is the immense danger this project will pose to the children attending Peck Slip school and the other private school adjacent to this lot. My understanding is that there are serious environmental hazards related to the soil underneath the parking lot which will have to be remediated, to say nothing of all of the typical construction hazards and noise which will last for years. Every parent of a child in these schools and every other citizen that lives anywhere near this site, as well as just any thoughtful person who is opposed to corporate greed and political corruption, should vehemently oppose this project. I hope Tribeca Citizen will choose to forego the ad dollars from the developer of this dangerous project and give voice to those that are rightfully concerned about the health and safety of our vulnerable children.

    • Ummm… I don’t get advertising from Howard Hughes, though that’s not to say I wouldn’t in the future. I have written a lot of stories about this project despite the fact that it is not in Tribeca, including those about the remediation of the site. I think the elected officials who are supporting this project should be a bigger concern to you than me. Finally, note that this site *will* be developed, whether it ends up being 120 feet high or 400 feet high, and any developer, HHC or otherwise, will have to remediate. That should be your focus moving forward, not my advertising revenue.

      • I agree: there are many reasons not to support the new proposal as it stands; site remediation is not one of them.

        I’m looking forward to it not being a parking lot anymore, but at the proper scale and with genuine thought given to the input of the neighborhood. I usually lean YIMBY, but this location is important to get right.

        Perhaps an increase in height and scale is warranted with a design that could pass muster with Landmarks (I am less interested in what CB1 has to say.). Let’s see, but I am not enamored by the way HHC continues to tie height and scale to an investment in the Seaport Museum. Either way, we need to see some specific numbers attached to that, too.

      • If you are a parent dumb enough to raise your kids in New York City there way more “hazards” you should be worried about other than this parking lot.

        • LOL thanks tough guy

        • You are missing the point here. The massive skyscrapers are not leaving enough light and air – there has to be breathing space SOMEWHERE. All that empty space in the “massive skyscrapers” is also ripe for conversion. The French architects who just won the Pritzker Prize for converting existing commercial space into affordable housing are on to something. I used to work for the Seaport Museum, I am devoted to it, but this is not the way to go.

        • I guess my grandparents were dumb to raise my father here, my parents were dumb to raise me and my sisters here, and I was dumb to raise my kids here…but so far, we have all survived and done just fine. Just out of curiosity, what hazard free place did you raise your kids?

      • My point is that the real story is not about how high the structure is going to be or not. Any “story” about this site that does not address the tremendous dangers to CHILDREN is utterly misguided.

  2. This is sad, there go 30 affordable housing units. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the final version ends even smaller with zero affordable housing. New Yorkers have proven time and time again that they don’t *actually* want affordable housing. Next time I pass a person experiencing homelessness I’ll tell them to ask the CB1 Landmarks & Preservation Committee why they don’t have a home.

    It’s also ridiculous because there are literally massive skyscrapers across the street in multiple directions; I mean this is Manhattan, JFC!

    • As father of two boys who go to school next door to the site – how dare the commenter disrespect one of the moms! And that she shouldn’t worry about neurological problems caused by elemental Mercury? Are you kidding me? Nothing says I care about people and especially low income families like ‘your kids are going to be sh*theads!” Why do you hate NYC so much that you wouldn’t raise your kids here? YOU may hate it here, but we cherish it, and want to share it with our kids. Maybe it’s the haters that should move out.

      Nobody who lives in the neighborhood likes the parking lot. It has remained a parking lot because the previous owners refused to build ‘as of right’ even after their plans were approved. So it isn’t the neighbors who are clamoring to keep a parking lot!

      We want it developed, but within the present zoning envelope, which, BTW, is already a compromise from what the other buildings are (4-5 stories) to 120 ft.

      Yes. The site needs remediation, but forgive us if we don’t trust HHC. The issue is not IF the site is remediated but HOW. It has been like pulling teeth to get them to agree adhere to appropriate safety guidelines, like acknowledging that children and pregnant moms are more sensitive to things like elemental mercury. They are! One of the reasons we wanted the city to oversee this vs the state is because the state Brownfield program takes much of the liability away from the developer. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want someone with a 1.5 million dollar bonus for pushing through approvals by year end, who won’t be responsible for future problems, making any decisions on the cleanup. They are against anything that will slow it down to ensure it is done properly. They have pushed to do environmental impact studies to get the ULURP process rolling before the results were even public on what levels of toxicity were found! Refusing to spend money or waste time with precautions like promising to tent the site in the future.

      Oh, and before you go ‘talk to a homeless person’, please tell me which homeless man or woman would be moving in to 250 Water Street? Go ahead… waiting…none. Even if it were all MIH ‘affordable housing’ units- at over 2k per month- who is paying that rent? You? This type of affordable housing is a sham. An excuse to break zoning and a political out for politicians who support it.

  3. The City and Howard Hughes Corp squeezed the Museum in the first place, denying it the revenue stream from rents it should have to keep afloat. Now HHC is using the Museum and letters from all of its own tenants to plead its case in front of Landmarks Preservation Commission. HHC isn’t even hiding its contempt for the community since:
    ..It now won’t reveal the amount of its bribe for the Museum
    ..It has offered the minimum number of “affordable units” in a segregated section of another luxury building that we don’t need,
    ..It has quickly lopped off a meager 10 stories, grabbed another off-shelf plan and is offering an uglier, bulkier, totally out of scale building in a protected Historic District beloved by millions of New Yorkers, local residents and international tourists alike.
    The bleak future: If HHC wins, they will go back to Texas, laughing all the way to the bank, with huge profits after paying an obscene over-market rate for the lot, knowing full well it is zoned for 120 feet. Saul Scherl will get his 1.5 million bonus (how many low income units?) for getting it approved before December when duped electeds Brewer and Chin leave office. The Historic District will then have to fight hovering developers waiting for precedents to be set so they can to put up their buildings in the District.
    Result: The low-scale Seaport Historic District, birthplace of modern New York, enjoyed by so many, will look no different from the rest of hi-rise NY with an occasional historic house squoshed in between.

  4. Well judging from the two responses here, I am happy to say the SEAPORT GUY has intelligence. Firstly, there is no good enough reason the Howard Huges Corp can give to have LANDMARKS change rules for them. They have no regard for laws, rules, or anything else involving our neighborhood’s schools or children. 345 feet as opposed to 120 is insane. Our neighborhood has enough homeless issues beginning with a murder right down the street. The area is filled with our children during the day. LANDMARKS – either stick to the rules or become totally useless, in which case you may as well dissolve the commission and go home. Show me one wonderful thing in the again newly renovated Seaport by Howard Huges that has enhanced the living conditions in our neighborhood.

  5. If you were to write a fair article you’d schedule a meeting with the Seaport Coalition to see both sides.

    In regard to HHC’s application to the Brownfield Cleanup:
    Their consultant, Langan, conveniently down played and misdirected the community about the thermometer factory locations and the presence of elemental mercury on their application.
    This engineering consultant was the same engineer that the Milstein’s used, years before, and this firm was fully aware of the high probability of elemental mercury at this site which sits just 10 feet from where kids play every day while at school.
    It wasn’t until Mothers from the adjacent school’s researched city planning documents that it was uncovered the lot was once the location of the nation’s largest thermometer manufacturer. Preliminary sampling of the lot by Langan barely scratched any of those known sites mapped by the Dept Of Building’s records.

    Soon after, HHC was showing the thermometer factory locations in a Community meeting. Actually copying the layover map of the thermometer factory locations the Mother’s created.  At that same community meeting, in 2019, HHC admitted elemental mercury was never even tested for – further subverting the possible impacts and improperly informing the public about the dangers. 

    It’s this kind of behavior that has the Community concerned.
    We have experienced a lot of promises over the years from the HHC Organization. It’s unfortunately been proven time and time again that what they say, cannot be trusted.

    If you are interested in speaking with us we would elaborate on and show proof on the following:
    •Are you aware that their intent is to get the zoning changed for 250 Water St. and then sell the lot?
    •Are you aware, as mentioned in a few other comments here, that there is a huge bonus incentive ($1.5 Millon) should the President of the NY Region at HHC be able to meet a goal of getting politicians and other authorities to approve an out of zoning limit proposal for 250 Water St?
    •Are you aware that the Seaport Museum received a FEMA grant in the amount of $12.5 Million, that Jerry Nadler was able to obtain for the museum, after SuperStorm Sandy? They kept that on a back burner, not repairing the museum infrastructure, so they could continue to spew that they have no money to make repairs and they’ll go under, without this help from HHC.
    Are you aware that the Seaport Coalition has a plan that’s been presented and ignored?

    Reach out to the Seaport Coalition before you write your next article.