Mixed response to Seaport development proposal

Height and massing foremost among Commission’s concerns. On November 18, 2008, Landmarks held a hearing on the redevelopment of Pier 17 to provide developer General Growth Properties (GGP) an opportunity to respond to public testimony recorded during Landmarks’ October 21st meeting. At the previous meeting, GGP proposed to demolish the existing mall on the pier, relocate the Tin Building, former home of the Fulton Fish Market, and construct several retail buildings and a hotel. GGP also proposed to build a 495ft. residential/ hotel tower just outside the boundaries of the historic district. Preservationists spoke in opposition to the development’s scale, design, and the necessity of the Tin Building’s relocation, while some residents and a representative from the Alliance for Downtown New York testified in support of the project as part of necessary revitalization of the Seaport. 5 CityLand 157 (Nov. 15, 2008).

Responses to the proposal by the Commissioners varied widely, but all concurred that modifications were necessary. Chair Robert B. Tierney found that the Tin Building’s relocation was appropriate, and that the proposal was “heading in the right direction.” Commissioner Pablo Vengoechea determined that the proposal “lacks cultural and maritime- related activity,” and that the new buildings would create “a tremendous juxtaposition in scale.” Commissioner Stephen Byrns stated that he had visited the site and found the existing mall to be appropriate and viable. Byrns argued that the Tin Building could be incorporated into the East River Esplanade, and that it was “a little simple-minded to just clear the slate.” Commissioner Libby Ryan found the seafaring-related design elements “faux,” and criticized the proposal as a missed opportunity, urging GGP to look at San Francisco’s Terminal Market. Commissioner Roberta Brandes Gratz stated that the relocation of a historic structure should only be undertaken as a last resort, while Commissioner Margery Perlmutter, who had called the architect’s choice of materials “shopping mall-esque,” found that the proposal required further study.

Landmarks did not vote on the proposal, permitting GGP to return with a modified plan.

LPC: 80 and 95 South Street, Manhattan (COFA# 09-3798) (Nov. 18, 2008).

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