South Street Seaport review process could set blueprint

Move comes amid push for stronger community voice in development decisions
February 25, 2014 03:40PM

The added scrutiny Howard Hughes Corporation is undertaking at its proposed South Street Seaport project could mean an added layer of discussion for other projects aiming to sprout around the city under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration. The planned 50-story tower’s review process could prompt others to create working groups to further vet projects before they reach ULURP.

The Seaport Working Group will have weeks or possibly months to make recommendations on Howard Hughes’ plan to build a residential and hotel tower in Lower Manhattan. The move comes as a number of community groups and politicians are pressing for a stronger community voice under the new administration, and new Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer said she would like to see similar bodies attached to the process for other major projects.

Community groups were already pushing for a louder voice at the end of Mayor Bloomberg’s final term, despite the fact that community board and local council member input were already common practice. But because such projects are almost always approved, the Wall Street Journal reported, some groups felt that such challenges were futile.

While the recommendations of the Seaport Working Group won’t be binding, they will closely examine the project’s impact on the surrounding area and are expected to impact its final shape. The process will take place simultaneously with a mandatory environmental review, and could serve as a guide for future development sites around the Williamsburg Bridge, according to the Journal. [WSJ]Julie Strickland