Howard Hughes scores final approval for $850M Seaport project

Developer’s 250 Water Street advancing after agreement on museum funding

David O'Reilly, chief executive officer, Howard Hughes Corporation in front of a rendering of 250 Water Street (pictured on the right) (Howard Hughes Corporation, Seaport Vision NYC, iStock)
David O'Reilly, chief executive officer, Howard Hughes Corporation in front of a rendering of 250 Water Street (pictured on the right) (Howard Hughes Corporation, Seaport Vision NYC, iStock)

Howard Hughes Corporation scored final approval from New York City for its mixed-use project in the South Seaport Historical District after years of pushback from neighborhood activists.

The developer announced Wednesday it can finally start building its 26-story project at 250 Water Street, which will include 270 rentals above a five-story base with Class A office, retail and community space.The $850 million project will also include 70 affordable housing units.

Howard Hughes is able to proceed with the project after agreeing to provide $40 million for the development of the South Street Seaport Museum. The city has agreed to pay an additional $10 million for the museum.

The company also announced it obtained approval from the city to extend its ground lease at the Seaport to 99 years.

The project, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), is expected to break ground in 2022 and will replace an existing parking lot.

The mixed-use project has been at the center of a battle with neighborhood activists who claimed the development would be out of touch with the district’s historic components.

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The $50 million in funding for the museum was a major sticking point.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said she would withhold her support for the project until the museum money was secured. 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 down in order to get approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The developer scrapped its plans to build a 360-unit tower with 100 affordable apartments in favor of a 25-story, 270-unit building with 70 affordable units, leaving less potential profit to throw the museum’s way.

The property, which has been a parking lot for decades, was once home to a thermometer factory.

Howard Hughes bought 250 Water Street in 2018 for $180 million. The previous owner, the Mistein family, had repeatedly tried and failed to secure approvals to build there.