Our Advocacy

Read HDC’s Response to The New York Times Article about 250 Water Street

On January 27, 2023, the New York Times published a Big City column concerning the Seaport Coalition’s successful lawsuit against the Landmarks Preservation Commission over the proposed development at 250 Water Street. Because The Times article falsely pitted preservation against affordable housing, our Executive Director, Frampton Tolbert, responded with this letter to the editor:

To the Editor:

Creating and preserving affordable housing in our city is a critically important goal that the Historic Districts Council strongly supports. But your January 27th column, “In Affordable Housing v. Parking Lot, a Judge Chooses the Lot” entirely misses the point of the lawsuit undertaken by the Seaport Coalition and supported by the Historic Districts Council, which joined as an amicus curiae in the case.

Moreover, the article does not identify the merits on which the case was decided, including the commission’s disregard for the NYC Landmarks Law by its consideration of political factors outside its purview.  The purpose of the Landmarks Law and the mission of the Landmarks Preservation Commission is to identify, preserve and protect the historic fabric of the city, not to approve overscaled towers in exchange for a developer’s promised financial benefits to a museum.  The Commission failed to consider the appropriateness of the application to the South Street Historic District, a standard 250 Water Street, like many of its predecessors, does not meet.

HDC hopes the applicant will return with an appropriately-scaled proposal that includes affordable housing as a key component. As the citywide advocate for New York’s historic neighborhoods, HDC considers it imperative to demonstrate through our work that historic preservation supports and does not impede the creation and retention of affordable housing. In March, HDC will hold the Preserving Affordability Symposium, which will feature case studies of successful rehabilitation and adaptive reuse for affordable housing, highlighting the tools needed to encourage more good work to help solve our affordability crisis in NYC.