Letters, Week of May 8, 2014

SEAPORT DEVELOPMENT

To The Editor:
The following is an open letter to Councilmember Margaret Chin:

I write this letter to express my grave concern regarding the development of the New Fish Market Building in the South Street Seaport.

For three years the Howard Hughes Corp. has been publicly stating that it had no plans whatsoever for developing that area. I recall that when H.H.C. representative came to a meeting of Southbridge Towers’ board of directors with sincere smiles on their faces, they categorically stated that there were no plans as yet for any further development in the area. Yet but a few months later they had a fully-developed plan to place a high rise on the footprint of the Fish Market building, completely out of keeping with the historical nature of the area.

The H.H.C. lawyers were evidently fishing for a loophole to appropriate this platform, which sits squarely in the historic district, and exploit it in a way that destroys the continuity of the iconic bridge and the landmark historic buildings.

Hoping to gain yet another gift from the taxpayers of N.Y.C., Howard Hughes Corporation hopes to enhance their brand against the backdrop of the Brooklyn Bridge. This opportunity alone should carry a price tag of hundreds of millions of dollars. But more to the point, it should never happen.

In a letter to their shareholders, the firm wrote that they expect to generate a stabilized 10 percent yield from all of their other investments, but they excluded the South Street Seaport because “We expect to generate a significantly higher yield on cost than 10 percent.”

On whose backs will this significantly higher yield fall but on the residents of this community?  The proposal that the Seaport now host a multi-story high-rise is unjustified, and counter to the historic charm that was to be the cornerstone of the development of this area. I call upon you as our councilperson to oppose such a insult to the area.
Jared Brown 

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7 Responses to Letters, Week of May 8, 2014

  1. Voice of Reason

    Chin will oppose nothing that hurts her real-estate buddies at Hughes.

    She received hundreds of thousands from the Real Estate Board of NY in her last campaign. The former head of that Board is now the CEO of Hughes Corp.

    Chin is in their back pocket, and will give them whatever they ask. Look at what she did at NYU in the Village.

  2. Manhattan has already lost so much of the character that has, for decades, made it a very special place. Every month undistinctive chain stores, banks and pricey condos pop up in place of the mom-and-pop stores, reasonably priced ethnic restaurants, residences, cultural organizations and more that made Manhattan unique.

    The South Street Seaport has thankfully not been ruined yet. It makes sense to restore the magic of this historic, landmarked area instead of replacing it with another multi-story high-rise building for wealthy people.

  3. Bridget A. Schuy

    Darn right, Howard Hughes Corp. is going to realize a heck of a lot more than a 10% return on their Seaport investment!!! The EDC has given HHC the the Seaport for less than $3.50 per square foot!?!?! It costs the homeless more than $3.50/per sq. ft. to live in a refrigerator box on the streets of NYC!!! This give away is complete violation of a public trust.

    Brown is on the money when he says that Howard Hughes Corp will exploit a NATIONAL icon for the enhancement of HHC's brand – at the expense of the entire community, no less. NYC government should not be permitted to commit such an egregious travesty. Has anyone read John Lui's audit of The EDC? In case you haven't, highlights include scathing commentary of The EDC's relationship with HHC.

    Oh, and let's not forget the sham called the 'Seaport Working Group'. The advisory group who forgot to invite The South St. Seaport Museum to the table. FYI, there would be no "Seaport Historic District" if it weren't for that very same iconic institution. Not to mention, that the group was formed AFTER the new leases were signed by The EDC and HHC.

    Recommended reading:
    Preserving South Street Seaport-The Dream and Reality of a New York Urban Renewal District
    James M. Lindgren

  4. HHC has already turned the beautiful historic main street of the Seaport into a garbage dump of shipping containers, rubber tents and loudspeakers, with dirty astro turf hiding much of the cobblestone. And they're adding to the turmoil – and their bank account – with their plans for a mega-tall luxury building next to the historic bridge – while paying just $3.50 per square foot with a 60 to 70 year lease.

    I recently received a survey from HHC marketing, asking me to select from a list of fast food / slavery-produced clothing franchises – giving me a "vote" in what clutter is yet to be added at the seaport. My vote is that the small family businesses that have been at the Seaport longer than HHC be allowed to survive and thrive, and continue to provide real services such as healthy, digestible food and pleasant atmospheres – something HHC can't fathom – and that the Seaport be returned to his pre-HHC state when it was treated as a historic district to be respected and treasured.

  5. Robin Warshay

    As a member of the Board of Directors of Southbridge Towers, I've been attending many meetings of SOS, & panel discussions, in the hope of learning that The South Street Seaport Museum will be revitalized & the New Amsterdam Market will be expanding. However, I've been horrified to learn that HHC/aka Goliath is creating it's own Twin Towers to add to it's portfolio…..they've acquired air rights, and will be completing a 70+ story building on the right side of the Seaport. I have great concern that as HHC pushes to develop their state-of-the-art glass mall and satisfy their shareholders, the fate of the ships, the Museum, and the South Street Seaport District is in jeopardy. I for one would like to see a full list our local officials and the amount of HHC campaign contributions, so we can see who is being influenced, and by how much.

  6. So I guess it doesn't matter what the citizens want after all. The mayor doesn't hear or has no power, the governor the same? Just WHO are the people selling our city?? You can go to all the meetings you want but you won't get anywhere until you gather up all the people and have an old fashioned 1960's sit in on OUR SEAPORT. You can bet that would cause people to pay attention. It seems like these meetings are going no where fast. Howard Hughes is destroying what belongs to the city and doing what they want anyway.

  7. If you think this is something with the South Street Seaport and HHC….. Just look at the recent post card Brookfield sent to all of us about Hudson Eats. The lovely map the included on the postcard did not include South Street Seaport!! Again East and West 1% sticking together to walk over the 99%.

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