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BY JANEL BLADOW | Our little village within the Big City is bursting … with news … much like blooming May flowers!
Seaport S.O.S.… Save Our Seaport, a community watchdog organization, held a couple of great informational Town Hall Meetings last week. The goal of these meet-ups at the Titanic Memorial Park (Water and Fulton Sts.) is to come up with a viable plan for economic development that also preserves and celebrates the importance of our neighborhood to New York City’s history.
On Saturday, about 50 people gathered to hear from Peter Stanford, long-time champion of the area and founder of the South Street Seaport Museum. Joining him were Robert Rustchak, a merchant marine captain, and Bridget Schuy, a neighbor and Downtown realtor with Bond New York Properties.
“That Peter is still coming out for the Seaport is remarkable,” Schuy told us. “He’s still fighting for something he believes in and fighting the same fight going on 40 years.”
Schuy thinks the city’s Economic Development Corp. is “violating a public trust that they should be protecting by giving Howard Hughes Corp. an unspecified amount of square footage for less than $3.50/sq. ft. At that price, H.H.C. could realize an obscene profit at the expense of the people of New York City.”
She said without the firm’s proposed 60-story tower, there’s still an unprecedented amount of development taking place in Lower Manhattan.
Between 2011 and 2014, six buildings were built with more than 2,000 housing units. Next year alone, on Fulton St., Beekman and Park Place four more buildings – two of them 59 and 75 stories high – will rise with more than a 1,000 housing units and nearly 300 hotel rooms.
“The market is flooded with condos and rental apartments. This proposed tower [by Hughes] will dwarf the Brooklyn Bridge at the expense of the public.” Not to overlook things like, she says, the already overcrowded schools. “Government cannot build enough schools fast enough to accommodate the growth.”
Then on Monday, two more speakers with a vested interest in the historical significance of our community held a second Town Hall meeting – Brian McAllister, captain and owner of McAllister Towing, and Robert LaValva, founder and president of New Amsterdam Market. They both – along with previous speakers – stressed the vibrancy of the Seaport District and what its past means to our future.
To give you some perspective on the area and these issues, there are two new books out worth reading (or at least looking at the great photos). “Preserving South Street Seaport: The Dream and Reality of a New York Urban Renewal District” by James M. Lindgren (NYU Press) looks at the area from 1960s through today as one of the last neighborhoods not destroyed by urban development. “A Dream of Tall Ships: How New Yorkers Came Together to Save the City’s Sailing-Ship Waterfront” by Peter and Norma Stanford (Sea History Press) chronicles the couple’s dream of saving Manhattan’s old waterfront and creating a museum that celebrates its history.
Meanwhile, the Hughes Corp. plans for the Fulton Market building went before the Landmarks Preservation Commission recently. H.H.C. removed the fish market stalls inside and plans an eight-screen, eat-in multiplex movie theater with retail stores ringing the outside of the building. Apparently, the powers that be weren’t thrilled. Check out the story, “Fulton Market’s ‘All-American Mall’ Makeover Fails To Impress” on Curbed.com.
Fill your basket… The New Amsterdam Market returns to the Old Fulton Fish Market on South Street (between Beekman & Peck Slip), Saturday, May 31, 11 am – 5 pm. The monthly greenmarket features foods, beverages and crafts by local and tri-state small vendors.
Supporting our first responders… Our great Seaport merchants came out in force and their generosity is greatly appreciated. Local businesses donated gift certificates and/or gift baskets that were auctioned off in April at the “Jimmy O.” Benefit in Queens. James O’Shaughnessy, a World Trade Center first responder and N.Y.P.D. officer, was paralyzed from the neck down in a horrible freak accident last summer, and can only move his right arm and left hand today.
The auction raised funds for his medical expenses, handicapped van and motorized wheelchair. Local donors included Jeremy’s Ale House, Cowgirl Seahorse, Salty Paw, Nelson Blue, Paris Cafe, Ryan McGuire’s, Starbucks, Pasanella & Son Vintners, Prime Meats and Key Food//55 Market. Big thanks to you all!
Champagne and cute clothes…. One of our newest spots in the Seaport, ModaBox by ModaListas is holding a Happy Hour Designer Sample Sale Thursday night, May 8, 5 – 8 p.m. Some of the fantastic fashions at this cute pop-up boutique (193 Front St.) are up to 90-percent off! Twenty-percent discount on new arrivals by featured designer d.brandUS.
Established in Stockholm in 2006, d.brand started as an alternative to overpriced designer jeans. It has grown into a denim-driven line for in-style women and men who want casual cool looks.
Mention to ModaLista C.E.O. and founder Monica Phromsavanh that you saw the party in Seaport Report. And, don’t forget to say hey to her shop mascot and sidekick, the fashionably fabulous Reina (her chic Chihuahua)!
Plant and purchase… Support DeLury Square Park (Fulton and Gold) during the city Parks Department’s “It’s Your Park” day for their annual spring clean.
Volunteers can come out and get grubby by planting some spring flowers. Not your thing? Then check out the arts and crafts fair (all proceeds go to the park fund).
The fair runs Friday and Saturday, May 16 and 17, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., and planting is Saturday only, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Rain date for both is Sunday, May 18.
Chic boutique hotel… The Best Western (33 Peck Slip & Front St.) is getting hipped up. The Greenwich Village Prohibition-themed Jade Hotel is growing its boutique brand with three new locations – taking over the Seaport Best Western, one near Bryant Park and a third in Miami. The Seaport conversion is by Atelier & Co., working with MLG Architects. The revamped 72-room inn will open mid-2015.
Toot your horn… There was a big launch party Wednesday at Pier 15 to celebrate its opening and the relocation of Hornblower Cruises.
Actress Margo Bingham of “Boardwalk Empire” fame kicked off the ceremony singing the National Anthem followed by a Color Guard presentation. Hornblower New York’s Tom D’Amato made the opening remarks and welcomed guests and speakers including politicians, neighbors and seafaring friends.
After closing remarks by Hornblower C.E.O. Terry MacRae, and the christening of Pier 15, some celebrants partied with drinks and snacks on board the Hybrid while others stayed on the pier and continued the big blow out. A blast for everyone!
The event was co-sponsored by the city Economic Development Corporation, Hu Business International Group and NYC & Co. which showcased its new Official NYC Information Center South Street Seaport.
The digital touch screen kiosks, concierge terminals and oversized information screens provide the latest info on events, attractions, dining and nightlife around the city.
Send your thoughts on Seaport developments and happenings to Seaportreport@downtownexpress.com.