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BY JACKSON CHEN
A developer is set to clear the way for what will be the city’s second-tallest skyscraper, filing two demolition permits for Front and South Streets on May 8.
The supertall tower in the Seaport area, being developed by China Oceanwide Holdings, is expected to reach 1,436 feet tall. Its massive height would make it the runner-up to the 1,792-foot One World Trade Center for the city’s tallest building. While construction permits have not yet been filed, the developer submitted two demolition permits for a six-story building at 80 South Street and a 10-story building at 163 Front Street earlier this month, according to Department of Buildings records.
The project attracted the ire of locals, who continue their criticism of the tower, despite its as-of-right nature. Michael Kramer, a member of the neighborhood organization Save Our Seaport, said the group has kept its eye on the project for more than a decade.
The site went through several failed designs before being sold off to Howard Hughes Corp. in 2014. After HHC’s own plans for a residential tower ran into fierce local resistance, the Seaport developer then flipped the property to China Oceanwide Holdings for $390 million in March 2016, along with more than 400,000 square feet of air rights. According to documents filed with the City Planning Commission, the proposed 113-story mixed-use building would total 1,067,350 square feet.
But for Kramer and the opposition, the towering project would create a serious detriment to the neighborhood’s quality of life.
“Nobody is studying the impact on the neighborhood’s air and light. There’s going to be shadows over the Imagination Playground on Burling Slip,” Kramer said. “Forget about the sunlight for the parents and children who use that playground.”
Kramer suggested that the developers soften the blow by giving something back to the neighborhood — such as a donation to the South Street Seaport Museum just a block away from the project.
“This is all going to happen as of right, so there’s nothing that can be done from the perspective of negotiating with the developer,” Kramer said. “But there is a moral and financial commitment incumbent on all developers who are moving people into the neighborhood.”
Community Board 1 is also warily watching the project, but hasn’t been able to weigh in officially yet. According to Marco Pasanella, CB1’s Waterfront, Parks, and Resiliency Committee chairman, no presentations or applications have come in front of them regarding 80 South Street.
But Pasanella added that CB1 would welcome any meeting or presentation, and is looking to invite the developer for informational purposes.
Representatives of China Oceanwide Holdings could not be reached for comment.