250 Water development is approved by Landmarks Commission

Call me naïve: I really didn’t think this would go through. But here we are, with a building 13 stories taller than the zoning allows in a historic district, all for the big payout of 70 affordable apartments. I don’t think I have to remind anyone that this is precedent setting.

It’s just mind boggling that the city sees the way forward on $8.7 BILLION in spending for four high-rise jails in neighborhoods that don’t want them, yet can’t find a way to build affordable housing in those very same neighborhoods. Instead, they dump that responsibility on developers, who — and I don’t begrudge them this — are trying to make a profit on their building.

Can we just for a minute connect the dots here? So the plan is to close Rikers, where no one lives, and instead put four low-income neighborhoods through years of construction — all in the name of prison reform that may or may not happen. Why not rebuild better buildings on Rikers, where there is space and air? Build more outdoor space for prisoners. Add a ferry service from both the Bronx and Manhattan for visitors. Add a courthouse there, to cut down on travel time.

Why not rehab the current prison here on White Street, rather than tear it down?

And then, why not build 12 stories of fully affordable housing at 250 Water? Especially in a time when we are spending billions on rent relief after the pandemic showed us just how precarious many lives here are.

I am not going to discuss the Seaport Museum piece, since now, with the building on a path forward, that is suddenly up in the air. The final number will be worked out in the land use process.

That’s my rant for now. Here are the final specs on the Howard Hughes Corporation’s plans for 250 Water, approved yesterday by the Landmarks Commission in a 6-to-2 vote. The ULURP process starts later this month:

  • 25 stories
  • around 540K square feet
  • 324 feet tall
  • 270 units (200 market rate condos, 70 affordable at an average of 40 percent of Area Median Income)
  • office and community space
  • nearby open space improvements
  • funding for the seaport museum (final $ number to be worked out during the land-use process)



  1. What about the safety issues underneath 250 Water? How are they going to pull that off? They can’t put the community at risk and lie like the air quality after 911 downtown. What is going to be done for the residents living there now?

    • Both the EPA and State require that the Mercury issue be remediated regardless of whether the site is developed.

      • Reademan, we need to make sure. EPA lied to us when they came and tested during 911. Its a fact. Hopefully the corruption is over.

        • I don’t know what to tell you. Federal law requires that the site be cleaned up, even I’d nothing ever happens there. It is not optional.

          • Yes of course we want the site to be cleaned up. I pray they will be transparent with us. That is all.

  2. Completely agree with your rant, especially about the jails and Rikers. Since that project will cost billions (which the city does not have), shows no promise of real criminal justice system reform, and is a net negative for the host communities, inquiring minds want to know: Who benefits from that plan?

  3. This skyscraper is completely out of character in the Financial District as it (checks notes)… has similar size towers literally across the street on two sides?

    I welcome this development and I wish more New Yorkers did, in fact I wish the 1000ft version had been built which would have had 150+ units of affordable housing. If a skyscraper like this is not appropriate in the dense Financial District, which you could argue is the birthplace of skyscraper, then I don’t know where they would be.

    If this were a historic building, I would maybe feel different, but it’s a parking lot. We need to be doing more of this – taking back all the space which has been given to automobiles back to people. I can’t think of a better candidate to build the housing this city needs then underutilized parking lots.

    Anyway, this whole episode leaves me very pessimistic that New York will ever solve its housing crisis – New Yorkers clearly do not want more affordable housing.

  4. After 9/11 loads of skyscraper office buildings were converted to apartment rentals. I am assuming after 1 1/2 years of COVID, probably half were vacated. LANDMARK COMMISSION and NYC, you are a joke. You both sold out our South Street Seaport for SEVENTY AFFORDABLE APARTMENTS, to create even more congestion, accidents and pollution at the Brooklyn Bridge exits and entrance. To make matters worse, we all know Howard Hughes Corp. will fail at whatever it is they have done in and around South Street. In the 50 years I have lived here, there has not been one successful renovation which benefited the residents in the area. These last renovations certainly offer nothing to New Yorkers or tourists.