HHC reveals latest plan for its 250 Water St site

HHC is now in full public relations mode to overcome Seaport advocates’ unwillingness to accept HHC’s false premise that the only way to save one public asset is to sacrifice another: HHC’s offer of Seaport Museum funding, for a carve-out to HHC of almost 10% the historic district for a tower that doesn’t belong there, and would set a bad precedent for not only the Seaport but other protected areas.
HHC’s internal document reveals intent to use the Seaport Museum as “political cover” and sell 250Water.

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250 Water St – Gaming the public and elected officials to gain approvals for a tower that the Howard Hughes Corp. may never build?

The Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC) held 3 stakeholder workshops between Sept 2019 and March 2020 where it presented its privately-owned 250 Water St site as an opportunity for all sorts of community benefits, if only the community could be persuaded to trade off long-standing historic district protections so that HHC could build a tower within the Seaport. But spanning the same period that HHC was promoting its public plan, it was presenting an internal budget document to its NY Region – Oct 2019 – which reveals a different plan to sell 250 Water – as soon as 2022. As a key slide shows, if HHC is able to get pre-build entitlements needed for a tower, it intends to sell 250 Water – as soon as 2022, leaving the fate of an actual build to another developer. The Seaport Coalition – an alliance of several groups that came together in 2019 around plans for yet another inappropriate build in the historic South St Seaport – held a public meeting on Sept. 17, 2020 (via Zoom) to provide an update on key events that have taken place over the course of the covid lockdown, centered around issues that HHC’s plans for 250 Water brought to the fore. The full presentation provided an update on the Brownfield cleanup of the toxic wastes under 250 Water St; issues around air rights; the city required steps that the developer must follow in its attempt to gain approvals for a tower on the site; what the coalition has been doing to protect the seaport from inappropriate development; and how the public can help.

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South Street Seaport – At risk yet again – but not from another Hurricane

    In June 2018, the Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC) bought the 250 Water St. site (currently a parking lot) that lies within the South Street Seaport Historic District, and comes with landmark district protection and a contextual zoning height limit of 120 feet.+ After years of a segmented development approach, HHC – with visions of a tower soaring skyward over the Seaport – now decided that it was time to engage the community in its master planning for the Seaport.  To buy support for a tower on the 250 Water St. site,  HHC was ready with offers of any number of the usual public benefits in exchange.     In late summer 2018, preservation advocates, Seaport area residents, and parents and representatives of nearby schools came together over concerns regarding the development of the 250 Water St. site and the surrounding Seaport area, and the current Seaport Coalition was formed.     With the future of public assets again at stake, coalition members decided that the public should be the ones guiding public asset development, not filtered through a developer’s private agenda. This led to the release in November 2019 of the Seaport Coalition Strategic Plan.     The plan draws on and incorporates elements of a long history of advocacy for the Seaport as an invaluable public asset, with the bottom line for 250 Water St – 120 ft.         HHC had a tower in its hands after it assembled its 80 South St Development Site in 2014-15.  In 2016, it let it slip away, sold to another developer.          Some pages from the Seaport Coalition Plan are attached.

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