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Be neighborly to Seaport developer
To The Editor:
I am very excited to hear about all the potential changes for Pier 17 and a little surprised at all of the negative reactions to the idea of mixed-use around the location. Given all the negative feedback, I can’t say I’m surprised that parts of the Howard Hughes Corporation’s letter of intent from December 2011 were redacted (news article, April 3 — 16,“Hidden no more, Seaport developer’s desire for hotels & housing revealed”).
All of the potential growth and changes coming to the Financial District is why I chose to invest in the neighborhood and make it my home. The Seaport’s historic charm is one of the great assets of the area and I welcome improvements that will make it even more of a draw. I know that not all development is progress or simply good by default, however, significant outside capital can lead to positive changes.
I was surprised to read recently that Howard Hughes Corporation “has never fully embraced the Lower Manhattan community” (editorial, April 3 – 16, “Still searching for trust at the Seaport”). They are a large landowner with a significant financial stake and I wonder if it may be the community that hasn’t embraced them?
As a Dallas native watching how outsiders can be treated, I plan to reach out to H.H.C. with my thoughts on what might work for them financially and for the community on their land. I think this is a neighborly thing to do, and is more likely to lead to a better result than accusations about hidden agendas.
While I can understand some mistrust of H.H.C., and understand the passion of those who want to fight “the greedy developers,” I believe that we should have a civilized conversation that recognizes the need for additional residential and lodging capacity in the area. The process could have been handled better by the company and the City Council, however, I don’t see a conspiracy or anything rising to the level of Seaport Gate.
H.H.C. should be forthcoming with their plans and open to suggestions, however, critics need to be forthcoming with their agendas as well. I would love to hear what various critics envision for the area and how they propose to finance that vision.
I love the history of the area and hope the community can preserve that; however, change is inevitable.
To The Editor:
Re “Statue of Liberty to open July 4” (news article, March 20 – April 2):
When it was announced that the Statue of Liberty would be reopened this July 4th, Sen. Schumer said it was the perfect day to reopen this symbol of America’s freedom and New York’s resiliency.
And the Battery Park Conservancy has just announced its wonderful plans for Battery Park. None include the Sphere. This is understandable since it was always the plan — both official and by popular fiat — from early ’02 on to return the Sphere to the 9/11 memorial at the W.T.C.
So, let’s make it a double celebration. July 4th would also be the perfect day to bring home to the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center that other symbol of America’s freedom and New York’s resiliency: the iconic W.T.C. Sphere.
Nothing is preventing that but the intransigence of the Memorial Foundation, which gives not a hoot about the Sphere, but evidently also cares nothing for Battery Park, the conservancy plans and what Downtown residents need and want.
Michael Burke is the brother of Captain William F. Burke, Jr., a firefighter with Engine Company 21 who was killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.