Deal in place to carry Howard Hughes’ Seaport tower to approval

Developer will provide $40M for air rights, city another $10M

Deal in place to carry Howard Hughes’ Seaport tower to approval
Council member Margaret Chin, Howard Hughes CEO David O’Reilly & South Street Seaport (Wikipedia,

Howard Hughes Corp. and the de Blasio administration have laid out a plan for providing the Seaport Museum with a $50 million endowment, funding that is critical for the developer’s project at 250 Water Street to secure final approval.

The developer will pay $40 million for 234,630 square feet of air rights from nearby Pier 17 and the Tin Building, which the city will set aside for the museum. The city has committed $10 million in “a recent budget” to the museum, a representative for Howard Hughes said at a City Council subcommittee hearing Monday.

A City Hall spokesperson could not immediately provide additional information on the budget allocation.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

Since Howard Hughes announced the project in October 2020, plans have hinged on the developer providing $50 million to the museum. A spokesperson for the developer noted that the funding figure was originally based on the proposed transfer of 415,000 square feet of air rights.

But the project was scaled back to attain approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The developer scrapped plans for a 360-unit tower with 100 affordable apartments in favor of a 25-story, 270-unit building with 80 apartments set aside as affordable, leaving less potential profit to throw the museum’s way.

The change in scale may have changed Howard Hughes’ air rights payout calculations, but it did not shift the expectations of Council member Margaret Chin and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who have made clear that they expected the full $50 million. The money would allow the museum to fully reopen for the first time since 2012 and also pay for infrastructure improvements.

The developer and the city still need to finalize details on the fund’s establishment ahead of the City Council’s vote on the proposal.