Letter by Margaret Chin, Week of April 3, 2013

To The Editor:
I am greatly disappointed by the article in the Downtown Express about a “secret plan” for development at the South Street Seaport (posted to Downtownexpress.com, March 29, “Seaport developer’s secret plan for hotel & apartments revealed’).

First, there is no “secret” plan for development at the Seaport. It is a well-known fact that for years developers have sought to build a project that includes hotel and residential uses at the Seaport.

Howard Hughes’ predecessor, General Growth, first proposed a condo-hotel tower on the site of the New Market Building in 2007. At the time, I testified against General Growth’s Plan, saying: “People come down to the Seaport because of its history. A 40-story tower has no place in the Seaport,” (news article, July 11 -17, 2008, “Some like Seaport plan’s tower, others say build a school,”).

My position has not changed: I will not support a development plan from Howard Hughes, or anyone else, that includes high-rise buildings at the Seaport. Furthermore, any development at the Seaport must be consistent with the character of the neighborhood and its history; and must provide benefits to the surrounding community.

Second, the Express wrongly characterizes the Letter of Intent (L.O.I.) between the Howard Hughes Corporation (H.H.C.) and the city’s Economic Development Corporation as this “secret” plan for development at the Seaport.

The L.O.I., which has been available to the public since December 2011, is a non-binding agreement that gives Howard Hughes the ability to propose a mixed-use project at the Seaport. Howard Hughes must submit a first-draft of a design for this project to the city prior to August 30, 2013.

To date, H.H.C. has not presented a proposal to the city. When it does, the city may or may not find the proposal acceptable.

Any development at sites H.H.C. leases at the Seaport will trigger a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). This is a public process which necessitates sign-offs from the community board and borough president, and ultimately, approval from City Planning and the City Council before any development can proceed.

There is no great conspiracy surrounding the future of development at South Street Seaport; and to imply so is simply irresponsible.
Margaret S. Chin

Editor’s Note: The article focused on the unredacted portion of the letter of intent, which was only recently made available to the public. The article also pointed out the lengthy review process that Councilmember Chin cites in her letter. We’re not aware of an instance when a Howard Hughes Corp. executive ever voiced their development intentions in public.

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8 Responses to Letter by Margaret Chin, Week of April 3, 2013

  1. Ms Council Woman
    All your constituents really want to known in simple English is, What was approved and what role you played in it. Were you just a potted plant in all the discussions and meetings.

  2. LiarLiarPantsOnFire

    There are all kinds of lies and half truths in this editorial. Chin hid information from the public. HHC's Letter of Intent was redacted and she wouldn't let anyone take the Letter of Intent outside of her office. Also, Chin is saying that she is protecting the community, but she actually isn't. Saying you protect the Seaport is one thing. But when you hand over the seaport on a platter to a big corporation, you aren't protecting it. When you hide information from the public, you aren't protecting the public. You can talk and talk and talk, but your actions don't measure up.

  3. Diane Fabrizio

    Go to Mystic, Ct and see a real restored seaport! No chain stores, only small shops selling articles connected
    to seafaring. Want an apartment in Mystic? It won't be anywhere near Mystic Seaport. Is there a charge to
    get into the seaport? Yes, but what you see is worth every dime. History, seafaring, cobbled walks, and
    across the river houses just as they were each with a widow's walk for women of the time watch for their husband
    coming home from whaling. Go to South Street Seaport. What do you see? Not much, certainly very little
    history except for the wonderful print shop and the shop where a lovely man carves maidenheads, and a
    struggling museum. Not much for tourists to see reflecting our history. Think harder Margaret about what a
    seaport should be, and then support what downtown residents want and need. She lives in the Old Cotton
    Exchange. Is this pride of the past or convenience?

  4. Margaret Chin and Christine Quinn, two POLITICIANS catering to the corporations that use them like puppets to do their dirty work. In the meantime, Chin and Quinn, do their acts with smoke and mirrors fooling and jerking around the citizens they are suppose to be representing! This is the way of the world in the city with all of those lying politicians who want to climb to the top and become Mayor of The City of New York and then be in an even better position to control and run their domain anyway they want to except that of how the people living in the city that foolishly put them into office. Bloomberg has shown very clearly that money is where its' at!!! Chin and Quinn are a perfect example of how they can be manipulated and stay in the limelight as politicians. At this very moment, Christine Quinn is fighting to become NYCs' next mayor by being voted in by all of those non-informational voters!

    • Female candidates usually seek women voters. I am one of those. In the case of Quinn and Chin, forget my
      vote…….you are either seeking continued and higher office or one day a high profile job with HUGHES.

  5. The councilmember's letter neglects the very important point in the story that she saw the uncensored ("redacted" is a nice way around that…) LOI. She neglects the point that another person who saw that letter, during subsequent testimony revealed this content. She was, as it appears, present at the time; she did not chime in to support the testimony suggestive of more Boss Bloomberg shenanigans. Ms. Chin.s letter here is like rent paid in AAFE buildings — a day late and a dollar short.

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