Politicians Want Seaport Developer to Reveal Its Plans

NEW YORK—Several elected officials want a more open process in the South Street Seaport redevelopment. In a letter dated Oct. 31, New York state Assemblyman Sheldon Silver and state Sen. Daniel Squadron stated the need for “a collaborative, community-based planning process” for several key locations at the Seaport.

The letter, which was also signed by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and City Council member Margaret Chin, and sent to the head of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), specifically named the Tin Building and the New Market Building as concerns.

Plans for future projects at both building sites were submitted to the EDC on Aug. 31 by the Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC).

HHC is leasing a majority of the Seaport’s property, all of which is owned by the city. In a redacted 2011 overview of plans for the area obtained by Epoch Times, HHC details high-rise, mixed-use development projects on the prime waterfront sites.

The uncertain future of the two buildings has raised enormous concern among members of the Lower Manhattan community and historic preservationists. The Tin Building is within the borders of New York City’s only historic maritime district, and the New Market Building is located mere feet outside of the district’s borders.

Community stakeholders have repeatedly called for more public involvement in planning the future of the Seaport.

“If the Met [Museum] were adding a new wing, imagine how much public review would be required,” said Robert LaValva, head of the New Amsterdam Market and a member of the Lower Manhattan’s NY Rising planning committee.

LaValva and others, including the community group Save Our Seaport, the Historic Districts Council, and Manhattan Community Board 1 have made repeated entreaties to HHC to be more forthcoming about its proposed Seaport plans.

The politicians’ letter to the EDC echoes that sentiment.

“There is a great deal of frustration within Community Board 1 and within the community regarding lack of information about plans for future development in the South Street Seaport,” states the letter. “Residents are concerned by the prospect of inappropriate height and density in the Seaport.”

Multiple Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests for the plans were made by community members and the media, including by the Epoch Times. The Epoch Times request was denied on the basis of “trade secrets,” despite the fact that the HHC has no competition in any impending developments.