Seeking a view into the Seaport’s future

Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer The South Street Seaport Museum’s ship, Peking, ship recently reopened for a few Saturdays (see article, P. 12), but nearby residents are trying to get a better sense of what the development plans mean for museum and the rest of the Seaport.

Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
The South Street Seaport Museum’s ship, Peking, ship recently reopened for a few Saturdays (see article, P. 12), but nearby residents and community leaders are trying to get a better sense of what The Howard Hughes Corporation’s development plans mean for the museum and the rest of the Seaport.

BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER | “What was your favorite movie? Y’all went and saw a movie, I’m sure. What was your favorite movie?” asked Christopher Curry, executive vice president of The Howard Hughes Corporation as he sat in front of a room packed with Community Board 1 Seaport Committee members and members of the public on Sept. 17.

No one answered.

“Nobody saw a movie?” Curry continued.

“I went to a restaurant but I didn’t see a movie,” Seaport Committee chair John Fratta replied.

“OK. Well, what do you think was the favorite movie? Seven hundred or 800 people on the lawn? It’s been great,” Curry said affably.

He had come to the Seaport Committee, the members hoped and believed, to shed some light on The Howard Hughes Corporation’s plans to develop those parts of the South Street Seaport where it holds leasing rights in addition to its rights on Pier 17. Demolition of the existing mall on Pier 17 is set to begin Oct. 1, with a new mall expected to open in 2015. But Hughes, a Dallas-based developer, also has a long-term leasehold on many other parts of the historic Seaport, and options on parts of the uplands area not currently under lease.

According to the terms of a letter of intent signed by Hughes and the New York City Economic Development Corporation in December 2011, Hughes had to submit its plans to the E.D.C. by Aug. 31, 2013 in order to exercise those options. Hughes met the deadline. Community board members wanted to know what was in those plans.

Curry didn’t tell them and as of Sept. 23, no one had heard anything — not the Community Board and not City Councilmember Margaret Chin’s office.

Instead, Curry and Phillip St. Pierre, general manager for The Howard Hughes Corporation at the Seaport, talked about what a great summer they’d had and vaguely referenced plans for an upcoming “fall festival type of thing” in St. Pierre’s words, followed by a “winter program, which will be focused on holiday and Christmas.” In the springtime, there would be flower shows, he said.

“What about the revitalization plan for the Seaport itself?” Fratta asked. “The master plan we’ve been asking about over and over again? I understand you made a submission already?”

“Well, we’re in discussion with E.D.C.,” Curry replied. “It’s evolving and we’ll have more discussions before there’ll be anything that is — anything to be shared.”

Curry said that nothing would happen “without everyone looking at it and commenting on it and you’re not missing anything.”

“When do you expect to have that?” Fratta asked.

“I would imagine it would be sometime mid to late October. I would imagine,” Curry replied.

The committee and members of the Save Our Seaport group, who packed the room hoping to learn something substantive from Curry, are particularly concerned about the Howard Hughes options on the landmarked Tin Building and the New Market Building, which is not in the city’s historic district. They are also concerned about the possibility of a Hughes takeover of the South Street Seaport Museum properties on Fulton and Water Sts.

The museum had to close its galleries at 12 Fulton St. in April 2013 because of Superstorm Sandy damage, but is currently using all of its properties and has been sailing its 1885 schooner Pioneer this summer.

However, a Howard Hughes leasing brochure shows the museum’s properties at 12 and 14 Fulton St. as being available for lease, and “we’ve heard rumors that they’ve literally had architects who have come into 12 and 14 Fulton and have been measuring the curtains,” said Michael Kramer, a member of the Save Our Seaport group, a coalition of community groups and individuals that wants to preserve the historic Seaport.

Curry, perhaps inadvertently, fueled that speculation with one of his remarks at the Seaport Committee meeting.

Howard Hughes Corp. plans to start demolishing the Pier 17 building on Oct. 1 and has submitted plans to redevelop the Tin and New Market Buildings.

Howard Hughes Corp. plans to start demolishing the Pier 17 building on Oct. 1 and may have submitted plans to redevelop the Tin and New Market Buildings.

In response to a comment from Community Board 1 chairperson Catherine McVay Hughes about the importance of the museum and its historic vessels to the community, Curry said, “It’s a very high priority for The Howard Hughes Corporation to figure out a long-term solution to make it a much more sustainable institution. It’s bigger than The Howard Hughes Corporation itself. We’ve had conversations with the city and we’re a willing partner to make sure that there’s long-term viability. We’re hopeful that we’ll figure out a solution.”

Those “conversations with the city” caused some people to think that Howard Hughes might take over the museum, and in fact, Kramer said that he had heard rumors to that effect.

After Curry and his team departed, Kramer and his colleague from Save Our Seaport, attorney Michael Yamin, outlined some of the implications of recent lease amendments between The Howard Hughes Corporation and the E.D.C., its Seaport landlord. These include, according to Save Our Seaport, “that the historic maritime tradition of the South Street Seaport no longer need be protected” and that there is no longer a requirement for the city and H.H.C. to “strengthen” the South Street Seaport Museum’s financial condition.

Kramer and Yamin also mentioned some of the litigation that Hughes continues to face from tenants such as Bridgewater’s, Pizzeria Uno and Heartland Brewery, whose tenancy was disrupted by Sandy but who were never able to reopen because of Howard Hughes’ failure to make their former premises available to them.

On behalf of Save Our Seaport, Kramer and Yamin asked the committee to call for a moratorium on future Seaport land use until Howard Hughes “pays all upaid rent due to the city, treats its tenants with existing leases fairly and both H.H.C. and N.Y.C.E.D.C. follow the recommendations contained in the N.Y.C. Comptroller’s audit report” of July 25.

“I don’t believe that we could put a moratorium on a land use application,” said Fratta. “We can urge them not to move forward, but we can’t put a moratorium on anything.”

He wondered whether the committee could ask City Planning to make Community Board 1 part of the process when discussions take place between Howard Hughes and E.D.C.

“That’s never happened,” CB1’s land use consultant, Michael Levine, replied.

“Howard Hughes is not being open with us. E.D.C. is equally to blame,” said Fratta. “We know that Howard Hughes is going to do whatever it can do. Howard Hughes is going to tell us to go to hell. They’ll smile at us and tell us to go to hell.”

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31 Responses to Seeking a view into the Seaport’s future

  1. Mr. Curry fails to realize he is not in Kansas anymore. A plastic Christmas tree and some movie reruns on cheap astroturf don't cut it with New Yorkers, who see right through Howard Hughes and its ongoing lack of transparency regarding the South Street Seaport.

    The Fulton Fish Market "Tin Building" and "New Market Building" are public structures, on a public site whose origins date to 1822. The Seaport itself has been a public gathering place since the early 17th century.
    Lower Manhattan residents should be outraged that this unique city asset, in their own backyard, is undergoing a planning and privatization process without any community input. If this were happening at Tompkins Square, Washington Square, or Central Park, how would their nearby communities react?

    The public has every right to demand more open and transparent planning for an irreplaceable city-owned site. Community Board 1 may not be able to issue a moratorium, but what it can do is pass a resolution stating it will reject any further development of the Seaport proposed by Howard Hughes. Earlier this year, Council Member Chin initiated a community-led planning effort to map the future of the Seaport. She was right to do so; the plan should come first; only after should developers be solicited, openly, to carry out what the City and the community desire.

  2. I second Mr. LaValva's comments. There has been no transparency into the Hughes plans for this area, and as an active and engaged member of this community, I believe we're owed the opportunity to provide input and feedback. More and more, the historic Seaport and eastern Financial District are becoming vibrant, mixed business & residential communities, and we need services that will support that mix, as well as plans which honor the history that is so vital to this neighborhood. I applaud the work the city has done to revitalize the East River Esplanade, but this is not — and should not become — another Times Square. The last thing we need is a shopping mall filled with gimmicky stores & restaurants designed for tourists. We need a balance.

  3. We do not want a mall that could be anywhere USA. There is precious unique history here, and people, both NYers and tourists, should be able to see and feel that history around them. No glass boxes, no franchises, no formula crap that debases, brings down, and destroys a neighborhood. THIS IS OUR CITY. OPEN THIS PROCESS. SAVE WHAT LITTLE IS LEFT.

  4. I am so tired of my neighborhood of 30 years being turned into the land of tourists, dorms and hotels. CB1 has 64k residents and 300K workers. Let's remember who's city this is. "Tin Building" and "New Market Building" belong to the people of the City of New York and we do not want them mallified. Even Cleveland kept it's historic market, and they have plenty of fiscal problems. Gving our historic market area to Hughes for money should make everyone responsible for approving the plan feel that they are putting nails in the coffin of our history.

    I live in NYC to be with New Yorkers, not mall shoppers off tour busses. HUGHES GO HOME

  5. Louis Black has it right. Let's keep NY out of Texas and Texas out of NY.

  6. As a lifelong New Yorker, I have watched as neighborhood after neighborhood in Manhattan lost their unique characters and became Disneyfied and filled with chain stores. Tourists from around the country and the world do not come here to patronize the same chain stores they have back home. They come because New York is unique and takes pride in that uniqueness.
    Allowing the Hughes Corporation to privatize the public buildings at the Seaport is bad for tourism, bad for businesses still struggling to recover from Sandy, and bad for people who live in the neighborhood. It would also put an end to the fledgling New Amsterdam Market, a truly innovative project that has as its goal a year round indoor public food market, something the city currently lacks.

    Sadly, if the Hughes Corporation has its way with the Seaport, it will be another instance of corporate greed trumping the public good.

  7. The reason there is a Seaport here is maritime and historic preservationists worked hard to save this unique corner of the NYC waterfront. The fishing schooners used to sail down from New England and unload their fish right there at pier 17, 18 and 16. The schooners Pioneer and Lettie G. Howard, and the "tall ships" Wavertree and Peking are what make this a SEA port. A mall developer with his containers and a planned glass mall do not make it a SEAPORT. In fact, this developer from Texas took the word SEA out of the word South Street Seaport Historic District. That reveals his utter land lubber contempt. His brainy branding consultants call it SeeChange, or something equally ridiculous.
    It all sits on the East River. Restore the pride in our Maritime Heritage. In this city we just recently had tugboat races, on the Hudson River. The ferries go back and forth on the East and Hudson Rivers. What is the matter with the EDC that they just willy nilly let a mall developer from Texas have full rein, and run rough shod over a vibrant working and residential community,?! Bloomberg, your real-estate moguls and the EDC have gone too far this time.
    It's similar to the NYPL selling off city owned libraries at a cheap rate, so that developers can build high rise luxury buildings on the site of two former librairies: Mid-Manhattan, Fifth & 40th St. and Science & Business, Fifth & 34th.
    A lot of city and state money went into pier 17; why should a private developer get a cheap rental rate?

  8. How ironic that that Howard Hughes should seek to sever the last real commercial fishing link Manhattan has to the waters beyond just at the moment our waters are recovering. The Fulton Fish Market was built in the first place because it was a place where fishermen could land and sell their catch. As recently as 1928 475 million pounds of fishery product was landed in New York at Fulton 65 million pounds of which were oysters, a lot of them local. We lost all that when we hopelessly polluted the nearshore with up to 600 million gallons of sewage a day. But that is also now in the past. The Clean Water Act has led to a much cleaner marine environment. Fecal coliform levels in New York decreased by a factor of ten in the last ten years. Levels of dioxins in once commercial seafood species like striped bass and blue claw crabs have dropped by half in the same time period. The Fulton Market should be a place that recognizes these great gains. A place where we could begin to see the revival of a local seafood sector and celebrate the other great food joys of New York State.

  9. We need markets not malls. My family bought fish for their retail store at the Fulton Market for almost 100 years. I would like my children and grandchildren to understand their heritage and not abandon another precious tract of the city's history to over-development. Let's restore dignity to an area that deserves to be remembered for it's role in our growth as the major urban center in the Western hemisphere.

  10. As a London-based architect watching the South Street Seaport development saga unfold from across the Pond, it is astonishing to me that the precious and unique qualities of the area appear not to be recognised by the city authorities. In London, we have witnessed many such battles over recent decades, and the lessons learned are unambiguous and clear. Covent Garden, one of our most vibrant and successful neighbourhoods, came within two days of demolition in the 1970s, before a determined group of local residents and businesses managed to win a reprieve. Imagine that part of London, if you will, with the historic market buildings gone, replaced by a faceless offices precinct complete with flying walkways! It would have been a disaster of epic proportions. Similarly, Coin Street on London’s South Bank was saved from a massive office development and now forms one of the most admired and visited mixed-use communities in the city.

    As the author of Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives, I am well aware of the importance of protecting such areas and their power to generate and sustain the sort of vibrant mixed-use life that is the stuff of all great cities. Food markets, such as New Amsterdam Market, are often key to such revitalisation. Borough Market, now the most visited tourist attraction in London, has also been the driving force behind the astonishing resurgence of what was once a hugely deprived neighbourhood. Its success is robust enough to accommodate tourists and locals alike.

    New York City has long been a beacon of inspiration to those of us working to re-democratise and vitalise cities. Jane Jacobs, arguably the greatest urban visionary of recent times and a long-term NYC resident, understood this very well. Had she been alive today, she would surely have campaigned alongside Robert LaValva in order to highlight the enormous potential that the sympathetic and democratic revival of the South Street Seaport would bring to the neighbourhood, city and region. If I were there with you in NYC, I would do the same.

  11. The bottom line is that the South Street Seaport Historic District should not be treated as just another development opportunity for a profit-driven private entity. This is a historic site of national, indeed international, significance: cradle of the great Port of New York and home, continuously since the 17th century, to food markets in a city that has long been food-obsessed. Thankfully — back in the 1960s, through the foresight of a group of passionate visionaries — the area, which had been slated for demolition, was saved. Over the intervening years, with infusions of hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars and private funds, the historic buildings and streetscapes were preserved. The fact that a decision was made in the 1980s to turn the Seaport into a mall (a well-intentioned, but failed, effort to provide the South Street Seaport Museum with income) should not doom us to make the same mistake twice. Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC) has gotten permission to build their hulking glass box on the waterfront; there is nothing we can do about that now, but watch it fail and mourn the loss of waterfront access and views. But we can cry out that the rest of the area should not become what HHC has taken to calling "our campus." This "campus" — 12 square blocks of irreplaceable 18th- and 19th-century buildings, the South Street Seaport Museum’s iconic fleet of historic ships, and the beloved, publicly owned Fulton Fish Market buildings — belong, by rights, to all New Yorkers, and should not be in the hands of ANY single private developer, particularly one as clueless as HHC. Please City of New York, do the right thing and let the locals — indeed all the citizens of New York — have their say about the future of this precious corner of our city.

  12. As a citizen of the Lower East Side I have witnessed the erasure of history through many parts of my neighborhood. Development need not be an ugly assault on a community. If done with sensitivity and intelligence, it can be a positive and welcome new addition. The New Amsterdam Market is a stellar example of how to enrich and enliven civic space. Any new development in the South Street Seaport should take this successful operation as a template for how do transform an area that enriches ALL New Yorkers. And, by the way, it is great for tourists, too. Keep it authentic.

  13. Howard Hughes is here to stay. That much was made clear when the City Council ignored the hundreds of citizens who came to speak before it on March 14th. It is small comfort that Christine Quinn has been shown the exit, given that Community Board 1 clearly does not know what is good for itself in welcoming Margaret Chin for another term.

    If Howard Hughes is here to stay, though, it is time they became a good neighbor. It has been nearly a year since Sandy hit New York. It is appalling that the Seaport has not recovered. It was certainly not for a lack of trying. I was there with hundreds of volunteers in the freezing cold aftermath, all helping as best we could. Robert LaValva and all the incredibly hard-working volunteers at The New Amsterdam Market deserve high praise in organizing that effort. But where was the institutional support? Where was the city, the Economic Development Corporation, the neighboring financial houses, the landlord Howard Hughes? Piling containers in the middle of the street and calling them shops, when nearly every real brick-and-mortar shopfront is still boarded up is an insult and urban vandalism. They need to be transparent with their plans, and allow the community to have a say in what happens to the Museum and all of the important historic structures in the Seaport. There was once, for example, an agreement to support the museum with a tiny fraction of the rent earned on the other properties–what is their intent with regards to that? Without transparency, one might cynically conclude that their actual plan is to treat Sandy as an Opportunity–an Opportunity to clear the rent rolls, or possibly worse, to let a few inconvenient albeit historically important structures crumble into the East River. I would welcome their efforts to disabuse anyone of such an idea.

  14. Once a historic sight is gone it is gone. Again and again in cities throughout the world, historic centers that are preserved and renewed for modern communities become not only a source of community wellbeing, but also of economic wellbeing. Generic development with the current modern style business model, not only dampens the soul, it is bad for local communities and eventually does not have the multi-faceted use to be economically sustainable. Why not save Fulton Fish Market, the ancient trading post, as Grand Central was saved in the 11th hour in the 1970s? New York City can not afford to loose another historical building like Penn Station only to years later regret it and try to recreate it.

  15. Kristen Leibensperge

    The Howard Hughes Corporation continues to not understand (or care to understand) what New Yorkers want. And, unfortunately for all or us, the EDC has been letting them get away with it!
    Howard Hughes, a private corporation, has been using and commandeering public and historic land for its own financial gain. The Seaport belongs to all New Yorkers! Hughes must be held accountable and forced to share their development plans with the community so that all voices can be heard. Real, viable options have been presented for the Seaport district, including the community supported New Amsterdam Market and its proposed year round market in the historic Tin and Market buildings. The community must demand that these options be seriously considered.
    As it currently exists, it is easy to write the South Street Seaport off as a ruined district (a sentiment that Howard Hughes is banking on no less) but with a little vision it is just as easy to see how the Seaport could be revitalized and once again be a vibrant contributor to downtown and a true waterfront destination.

  16. There are two things wrong with the Howard Hughes Corporation’s plans. For one thing, they will make lousy use of a very special and very public space, robbing the city of fantastic opportunities to do better. For another thing, they are being pursued secretively in lieu of what should be a democratic public process.

    The thing that makes cities great, and which makes New York greater than most cities, is the presence of large public spaces where one can mingle with crowds of people in an atmosphere defined by a blend of history and Zeitgeist. The ambience of a restaurant or a store is the product of its manager. The ambience of a public square or market is the product of its historic architecture and the mood of the crowd at the moment. These places are open to everyone and they are exciting places because they are alive – they draw their energy from everyone who uses them and they come to define the city of which they are a part. Shopping malls never accomplish this.

    The beautiful vision that Robert LaValva and others involved with the New Amsterdam Market have for the old seaport has proven its vitality. From the very first it has attracted crowds of people – both residents and visitors – and made the space in front of the Tin Building come alive. The Market is not merely a spectacle or a place to buy things, it is a growing network that provides support and encouragement to craft food producers throughout the city and upstate NY, connecting farmers, food entrepreneurs, and customers while creating a fluorescence of local culture.

    A shopping mall, or any private space, would be a sad alternative. Which is surely why the Howard Hughes Corporation is pursuing their plans behind closed doors. Any changes to important public spaces should be pursued as part of an open community planning process. The vision of the New Amsterdam Market is an expression of the best of what is happening in New York today. To pursue this vision, and to make sure that public space is used for public purposes, and not merely to add to lower Manhattan’s collection of bleak spaces designed for the accumulation of private wealth, the decision making process needs to be made more democratic.

  17. I am sick of hearing you all cry about those two rat infested, crumbling tin can buildings.

    You want historic, look at the Governors Island Ferry Terminal, which was renovated ten years ago for a Market and was never used. Same for the Fire Boat house, sitting empty for years.

    Bulldoze these "Tin Building" and put in a hotel.

  18. Such a tragedy that the city does not know how to protect distinctive neighborhoods. Well, it's up to residents to do it.
    Pitchfork time?

  19. My grandfather started his wholesale fish company in the Fulton Fish Market in 1931. My father worked there from the age of 19 until he retired at 71. My uncles and my brother worked there. For me, it was a spiritual anchor in the city. It's what awakened my deep interest in New York City history. It was one of the most vibrant neighborhoods I've ever seen, with a rich history that must be preserved. It has changed greatly since the Fish Market was relocated, but the streets are still of cobble stone, and the 18th and 19th century houses, which are irreplaceable, are very much a part of the life of the area. There are more creative ways to restore the commercial viability of the area than installing faceless chain stores. This is a neighborhood that has so much to offer — so many stories — for New Yorkers and for visitors. I can't conceive of its loss.

  20. A city’s vibrancy, color, quality of life, true character, and indeed, its long-term viability are defined by many things; but in the end, it is people, their identities, their unique stories as well as their capacity to accept one another, forge new relationships and unite in common cause to improve their general welfare by creating new social, cultural, political and economic value for all that makes a city a living, thriving, complex organism and not simply some random aggregation of disparate humanity and inanimate mass.

    There is a direct and proportional relationship between the strength of this capacity and the health of a city’s public spaces which serve to welcome, educate, celebrate and inspire us all, no matter our backgrounds and differences, but which also provide vital local context, whether it is geographic, cultural, temporal, environmental, or other. Public space connects us to our surroundings. It enables and empowers us to learn and care about one another and to share in our common destiny. In many ways, it epitomizes “the Republic for which we stand.”

    Continued in next comment below

  21. Continued from comment above

    If you are looking for an example of how badly this can turn, look no further than your neighbor across the Hudson, Jersey City, where far too much of its unique waterfront has been turned into privately-owned, glass-towered, insular gated communities. I truly believe that South Street Seaport represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for New York City’s citizens, in general, and District 1’s residents, in particular, to create a new kind of public space that benefits all New Yorkers and the region that sustains them and that effectively and proudly broadcasts to their guests what they have been, are and will always be about.

    For all of our sakes, please don’t screw this up like so many others have. Care enough to Save the Seaport!

  22. The Howard Hughes Corporation is not to be trusted and in a few short years, the Seaport will look like the stretch of Trump residential towers on Riverside Blvd in the upper 60s. NYC has an opportunity to make something relevant, transformative, and nationally recognized in the Seaport, like the High Line and a number of other excellent examples of quality-of-life changing public developments on waterfronts in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The Seaport with a mall or a hotel will be…another characterless place with a mall or a hotel. There are no shortage of those in the United States. So congratulations, you will have taken a major historical node of New York and made it irrelevant.

  23. Say we put together a development corporation and go to Texas and tear down the Alamo for a mall and a hotel?

    There seems to be a deliberate attempt to undermine so much of the history of New York, which is the history of America as much, or even more than the Alamo. Yet we have a mayor (who comes from from Boston!) who is intent on erasing our history, eradicating all industry save real estate, and undermining the roots of the people of this city –The New Yorkers– to turn our city into a profit making machine. And a profit making machine for NON-NEW YORK BASED COMPANIES, companies that will draining most of the revenues out of the New York economy and into other states. Currently the New York tax revenues support most of these other states, and it's just insane to let their citizens come and loot us further.

    The mayor is currently running a fire sale on public property, as if it doesn't belong to anyone and is free to give away to anyone who wants it. As New Yorkers, it belongs to US, and our elected officials have the responsibility to defend our interests. We have to hold them to their oath.

  24. No city, no culture can thrive without a commons. New York, and New Amsterdam before it and Manahatta before that, have occupied an economically and politically important spot in our region. Without public spaces for people to freely trade and interact face-to-face, we lose vitality, and adaptability. If places like the Fulton Fish Market site go to the highest bidder without the cultural future of the city borne in mind, we shall all be the worse off for it.

    Robert la Valva's vision is one in which public interaction in public spaces is at the heart of repositioning the city for a new role in a world in which concerns of sustainability become paramount. This vision resonates as far afield from the city as Vermont, where we are doing our part to revive the maritime commerce that made the city great. Yesterday, our sail-powered cargo vessel Ceres, sailed 22 miles from Ferrisburgh Vermont to the Burlington waterfront, delivering rye berries, flint corn, and garlic. We are gearing up to arrive in New York for New Amsterdam Market on October 27th, reviving the water highway that built the region centuries ago.

    Our project, the Vermont Sail Freight Project, is based on sailing on a waterway held in common and in landing in spaces where we can trade and interact in an open way. Without commons, we can't exist. Though I am at a remove from the fight here, the outcome affects me, and I support the efforts of Mr. la Valva and the New Amsterdam Market fully. Without the kind of public market he is working to protect and advance, vessels like ours will see reason to turn away and find other ports (this is a trend that the city is now hoping to reverse). If this happens, if every last scrap of waterfront is privatized and risk-managed away from any prospect of public use, we shall all be the worse for it, and the effects felt at least as far as the Green Mountains.

    Erik Andrus, Director, Vermont Sail Freight Project

  25. Without public spaces that belong to all residents of New York, New York becomes a playground for the rich, privatized, trivialized, and, for the larger, more important role of history, historically lost.
    Human interaction becomes a commodity. and access to the essentials of life are relegated to a convenience. The seaport is an important, recognized artifact of the people's history, rich in nuance about the relevant dynamics around labor, food supply, immigration, land use, and economics, Let's not forget who we are, or how we got here. As a public asset, we need the Seaport protected with public accountability and openness, with the greater good, the public good, as a priority. Get these freeloading (yes, freeloading) opportunists at Hughes out into the light, and require the EDC and our elected officials to uphold the spirit of government, as a custodian of public good. Or at least make Hughes play by the rules that were made to protect us.

  26. I attended the City Council Sub-Comittee hearing on the rezoning of the Seaport neighborhood. It was clear that Howard Hughes Corp.(HH Corp.) was not willing to commit to any aspect of the Pier 17 project and was unwilling to disclose its plans for adjacent public property. While this is not surprising, I was struck by the willingness of the Council to accept their evasive and non-responsive answers. The Council failed in their duty to require HH Corp. to disclose all plans so the proposed project can be reasonably evaluated by the public and Council prior to approval.

    Community Board 1 supported the project but recommend that any approval be contingent on certain disclosures and commitments by HH Corp. I believe that this approach failed to achieve the Community Boards goals and protect the interest of the residents and businesses of in the neighborhood.

    HH Corp. has shown that they will disclose only what they are forced to disclose. If Community Board 1 wants to represent the interests of their constituents and do their duty as a Community Board they must take an alternate approach. CB1 should oppose all government approvals until HH Corp. discloses all information the Board and public need to fully evaluate the HH redevelopment of Pier 17, the Fulton Fish Market, and the area covered by the rezoning.

    HH Corp. continues to stonewall. It's approach show open contempt for Community Board 1. HH Corp. acts as if it does not need to consider the priorities of the residents and businesses of CB1 in to its use of public property. We will soon see if HH Corp. has chose the right strategy.

  27. I think it should be reverted to parkland – that would be the best use for it.

    People will come for a park on the water. People will come for a beautiful meeting place with amenities.

    They won't come for another Best Buy or big box store. Malls are closing left and right, even in Manhattan.

    The historical nature of the area is unique, and should be capitalized upon.

    If you want to keep it as commercial, maybe you should make it into another marina, like Battery Park City has – you could court dot com millionaires from DUMBO and Brooklyn to put their boats there.

    It needs to be 'Brooklynified'. Choosing Smorgasburg to set up in the Seaport was a smart step towards that.

    But a store selling more Chinese plastic crud to tourists who will resent it – it can be more than that now.

  28. Lower East Sider

    This is another giveaway of priceless public space to a private entity – with no strings attached, it would seem, since the Hughes Corp and EDC are operating behind closed doors and giving New Yorkers the finger when we ask for the agreed-upon disclosures. Keeping in mind all the Howard Hughes misbehavior and unpaid rents and other shenanigans – how do they get away with this? CB1 should not allow this project to go forward without community input.

  29. Any resaerch into Howard Hughes will lead you to see they have no experience at all with urban real estate. Curry the Clown and Saint Pierre come from the same suburban mall developer so what do you think will happen here?

  30. What is urgently is needed now to save the city-owned Fulton Fish Market and other surviving parts of South Street Seaport?

    We need a commitment from New York City's government officials to initiate a real planning effort — an informed, open process for the whole waterfront district that revitalizes and respects the oldest surviving public market for food-trading location in the US.

    Because the site has been offered to the Texas-based mall developer, Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC), we can expect that developer won't give it up easily. However, the local community is more and more disenchanted with HHC, and some newly elected officials are reassessing the situation.

    As urban planner, Robert LaValva, founder of the New Amsterdam Market, frames what is at stake, "The Fulton Fish Market is a worldwide platform and a vessel of our city's culture, carrying the memories of four centuries. It should be considered a stage for innovation. To give in to the pressures of banal, unimaginative development is to give up our claim to our own history, our own identity. The act of preserving the market buildings is fundamentally and paradoxically more important than the buildings are themselves because it says something about our society: do we view the waterfront as a shared public space, or as the last frontier for high-rise Manhattan to expand? A public market is far more than a place to buy and sell food; and that is why a public market on this site carries so much meaning, beyond itself."

    Like many of my peers, it is my hope that city government supports the approach of New Amsterdam Market, a not-for-profit, to re-develop the Fulton Fish Market and maintain it as a public market and civic space. Imagine, wouldn't it be wonderful for NYC if the area becomes designated as a "living legacy" by the UN World Heritage Sites program and is saved as an urban treasure for future generations of NYC citizens, as well as global visitors.

    We need only look to other dynamic transformed spaces in the city — such as the High Line, Union Square as home to the Greenmarket, Central Park, and La Marqueta market building as home to Hot Bread Kitchen, to name just a few — to understand the multifold benefits that imaginative re-development has to offer our city moving forward.

    NYC has the opportunity to be at the forefront of food systems planning. Let's put the right planners and leadership in place, not another mall with chain stores.

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