Volume 16 • Issue 47 | April 16-22, 2004

Downtown Express file photo by Ramin Talaie

The Seaport Marketplace’s Pier 17 has several vacant retail spaces.

Seaport mall operator still working on a new plan

By Elizabeth O’Brien

Local residents gave the general manager of Seaport Marketplace their wish list for the revamped South Street Seaport at a recent Community Board 1 meeting.

Michael Piazzola, the general manager, said the operator of the South Street Seaport mall was currently formulating a “conceptual master plan” for the Seaport, which is expected to undergo big changes once the Fulton Fish Market leaves at the beginning of next year. The Rouse Company, the retail operator, has first dibs on two fish market buildings and is incorporating those buildings into its master plan.

Community members wasted no time telling Piazzola what he should consider as part of the new Seaport: a Whole Foods Market, a video rental store, a bar or club and more child-friendly options were among the suggestions offered.

“The problem with the Seaport is the people who live down here don’t want to go because they perceive it as a tourist destination,” said C.B. 1 district manager Paul Goldstein, echoing a common sentiment at the April 13 meeting.

While not discounting the possibility, Piazzola said a problem with Whole Foods was that the popular chain required 39,000 square feet and there were few spaces of that size within the Seaport. Also, the chain is in such demand that it can make prohibitive requests for the space it leases, Piazzola told Downtown Express after the meeting.

Piazzola, who once worked for Disney World, said one aspect of making the Seaport an attractive destination for locals would involve adding an entertainment component. While he did not offer specifics, he said a movie theater could be a possibility.

The Seaport hopes to release its plans for the property by the end of the summer, Piazzola said, just months before the Fulton Fish Market’s scheduled departure. One reason for the delay is that Rouse wants to develop the Seaport in relation to its surroundings, Piazzola said.

“Every time we turn around and think we want to create a master plan that will serve the neighborhood, the neighborhood changes,” Piazzola said, referring to the rash of Lower Manhattan redevelopment.


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