Howard Hughes hopes smaller Seaport project will work this time

Developer reduced project size by about 27%

New York /
Mar.March 09, 2021 08:30 AM
Previous rendering of 250 Water Street (left) and a new rendering (right) with Howard Hughes Corporation CEO David O’Reilly (The Howard Hughes Corporation/SOM)

Previous rendering of 250 Water Street (left) and a new rendering (right) with Howard Hughes Corporation CEO David O’Reilly (The Howard Hughes Corporation/SOM)

After intense pushback from development-averse community groups and a rejection by the height-averse Landmarks Preservation Commission, the Howard Hughes Corporation has revised its plans for a major South Street Seaport project.

The proposed development at 250 Water Street will look a bit different from what the developer originally envisioned. A revised design by architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill will shrink the project’s size by about 27 percent, from 757,000 square feet to 550,000 square feet. The tallest building will be reduced in height from 470 feet to 345 feet.

The unit count for the two-building project, which would rise on a parking lot, has shrunk as well. The new proposal calls for 270 apartments, 70 of which will be affordable rentals. Previously, it was to have 360 units, 100 of which would have been affordable.

The developers will, as before, provide long-term financial support for the nearby Seaport Museum. Overall, the project will cost about $850 million.

The New York Post first reported the new proposal.

The project has faced opposition from several community organizations, who objected to its placement in the South Street Seaport Historic District and its height. More importantly, it lacked support from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which in January said the buildings were too tall and asked Howard Hughes to go back to the drawing board.

Howard Hughes expects to present the revised plan to Landmarks in early April, according to a spokesperson for the firm. If approved, it can then proceed through the city’s public land use review process. If all goes according to plan, construction would begin next year.

If the proposal falls short, however, the developer will move forward with a 160-foot tall project on the parking lot, likely to include a mix of market-rate apartments and commercial space, according to a spokesperson.

But the revised proposal appears to have the support of local City Council member Margaret Chin, which would all but guarantee its approval should it make it past Landmarks and to the land use review process — which culminates in approval from the City Council.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Chin said the council member is “hopeful that the new design will bring opportunities for affordable housing and support for the South Street Seaport Museum while sustaining the architectural significance of this historic district.”

The proposal has the much-coveted support of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. After siding against high-rise developments in the past, Brewer urged the Landmarks Preservation Commission to approve the project, but was ignored, as were numerous other high-profile New Yorkers who testified before the body in January.

Howard Hughes bought the site for $180 million in 2018 from the Milstein family, which paid just $5.8 million for the site in 1979. The Milsteins also battled with the landmarks commission over the fate of the site.





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