HDC’s Best of 2008: Seaport Plan Scrapped!
There will always be new and increased threats to New York City’s historic districts. Late this fall, one such proposal came before the Landmarks Preservation Commission. But as in the past, the preservation community came together to challenge this gargantuan proposal, which would have negatively changed the seaport district forever.
The proposal was spearheaded by General Growth Properties (GGP), the private mall developers who lease much of the properties in the South Street Seaport. General Growth proposed a massive new development in and around Pier 17 in the historic district. In order to clear enough room to build a 495-foot mixed-use tower next to the pier (and the historic district), GGP proposed to demolish the historic (but not landmarked) 1939 WPA-built New Market Building, deconstruct the landmark 1909 Tin Building (and rebuild a facsimile of it at the end of the pier), demolish the LPC-approved Pier 17 Mall building and construct a number of new tall glassy retail and hotel buildings on the waterfront.
HDC, joined by our colleagues at the Municipal Art Society, the New York Landmarks Conservancy, the Society for the Architecture of the City and Councilmember Alan J. Gerson, fiercely opposed this plan. In addition, HDC nominated the entire seaport district to the Preservation League of New York State’s Seven to Save because of these threats. (We’ll find out in January if it makes the list).
At the LPC hearing in December, the commissioners took exception to many of the elements of the project. Although the proposal was not completely turned down, the Commission sent General Growth back to the drawing board. But just recently, General Growth put all of its properties within the seaport up for sale. HDC will remain vigilant about this issue and looks forward to updating the public as this project develops.