Last night, the Howard Hughes Corporation presented the latest iteration of the proposed South Street Seaport redevelopment to Community Board 1’s preservation committee and the public.
The plan presented, as a whole, is a new attempt at reviving the failed festival marketplace strategy of decades ago and adding a 2014 patina of more bulk and retail to the district. The current schematic takes the oldest neighborhood in New York City and dresses it in an abundance of fluorescent lights, covers it in peculiar paving and awnings, and alters its historic buildings and urban fabric.
For consistency, the new features will be knitted cohesively with a thread of homogenized mediocrity. It will render New York’s appearance to the likes of anywhere else, when our city’s aesthetic is derived from its history and that is why it appears different. This plan is counterproductive, as it will move a landmarked building in order to afford better views of a new mall, yet its new tower will block views of New York’s favorite icon: the Brooklyn Bridge.
As a Texas mall developer, Howard Hughes Corp. may be accustomed to a formula of building on pieces of flat land where nothing exists. This paradigm is translated to the corporation’s treatment of the Seaport, where they are prepared to build what seems to be a new city within a city. The Seaport is not a barren piece of land with little investment or public interest, nor a resource to bleed dry, but a unique palette of historic properties to work from, which contribute to all of Lower Manhattan and the city beyond.
Read HDC’s statement to Community Board 1 regarding the landmarked Schermerhorn Row and the Tin Building here.
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Historic Districts Council
232 East 11th Street New York, NY 10003