Howard Hughes project at 250 Water Street triggers primary race

Mom fearing mercury poisoning — and perhaps large-scale development — takes on Assembly member

TRD New York /
Feb.February 28, 2020 11:00 AM
Yuh-Line Niou, Grace Lee and 250 Water Street (Credit: Google Maps)

Yuh-Line Niou, Grace Lee and 250 Water Street (Credit: Google Maps)

A second-term Assembly member in Lower Manhattan has drawn a challenger inspired by a real estate issue: Howard Hughes Corporation’s proposed redevelopment of a former thermometer factory site.

Grace Lee is mounting a strong challenge to Yuh-Line Niou, who represents the Financial District and Chinatown, Gothamist reported. Lee alleges Niou has not sufficiently opposed development of the potentially mercury-contaminated site, which the insurgent says could stir up dangerous vapor, threatening children at a nearby private school that her daughter attends.

Some observers suspect the mercury issue is being used as a cudgel by opponents of the project, which would replace a parking lot at 250 Water Street. Critics say a large-scale building would mar the historic district.

Lee and Niou also differ over their support for Julia Salazar’s good-cause eviction bill; Niou is a vocal supporter while Lee is undecided.

Niou defeated the short-lived replacement of convicted Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in 2016 with the support of New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and the left-leaning Working Families Party, and recently secured the endorsement of 32BJ SEIU, the building workers’ union.

Lee outraised Niou in the most recent filing, $155,933 to $118,925, and Lee’s average donation was significantly higher than Niou’s.

[Gothamist] — Georgia Kromrei


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