Howard Hughes Corp. offers affordable housing at Seaport project — but community says that’s not enough

Jan.January 17, 2014 03:00 PM

Howard Hughes Corporation is hoping that the inclusion of subsidized housing will help soften the city and residents’ resistance to its planned 50-story hotel and apartment tower at the South Street Seaport. But affordable housing on its own would likely do little do sway them, locals said. The community board and local advocacy groups object to the planned tower’s size.

Chris Curry, Howard Hughes’ senior executive vice president of development, told Downtown Express that he reached out to Mayor Bill de Blasio during his transition and expressed a plan to include affordable housing in the new project. But whether such an inclusion would be placed in the actual tower, or simply nearby, remains unclear.

The mixed-use building, which the developer plans to fill with apartments, a hotel and retail, is in and of itself the subject of community ire, however. As John Fratta, chairperson of Community Board 1’s Seaport Committee told Downtown Express: “That may be fine for the administration, but not for the community. It’s still a tower and it just doesn’t belong.”

Key to gaining support is likely a reduction in the 600-foot-tall tower’s height, or the inclusion of community amenities like schools, libraries, community centers or playing fields.

“We’ve expressed our opposition to the height of the tower just as an opening,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told Downtown Express. But, he said, if the height were to be lowered, “the things the community needs,” would still need to be discussed.

But to the developer’s credit, an investment of roughly $125 million is already going toward community goals such as restoring the Tin Building, repairing a dilapidated pier and improving the neighboring esplanade, Downtown Express noted.

The vying interests may reach a stalemate.

“When we get into our ULURP, I’m sure a lot of people will be asking for a lot of things,” Curry told Downtown Express. “Some of it we can provide potentially and some of it we may not be able to provide.” [Downtown Express]Julie Strickland

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