The Howard Hughes Corporation showed its preliminary plan for the South Street Seaport to Manhattan’s Community Board 1 on Tuesday night and residents did not like what they saw. Magee Hickey filed the following report.
The so-called new market of the old Fulton Fish Market was built in 1939 by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. It's been vacant and dilapidated for years and, luckily for developers, falls just outside of the historic district of the South Street Seaport.
Developers want to demolish that part of the Fish Market and replace it with a 50-story glass tower, a combo hotel and condo.
“Taller, thinner buildings have less of an impact on neighborhood, they cast less shadows than shorter, squatter buildings that are wider and while we know it’s a large building on a waterfront, it’s necessary in order to do a lot of the other things that the community is asking for,” said architect Gregg Pasquarelli.
It's going to be a hard sell. At a packed Community Board 1 meeting on Tuesday night, residents held signs saying “Save the Fulton Fish Market” and “Don’t Block The Bridge!” referring to the Brooklyn Bridge.
At the meeting, representatives of the Howard Hughes Corporation, which controls the South Street Seaport under a lease with the city, showed slide after slide of the $125 million improvement they would make to the rotting wood piers and the landmarked tin building if they are allowed to build their skyscraper.
“People come down to see the ships, to see old buildings to get the nature of what the seaport was like,” said Community Board 1 member Paul Hovitz. “A glass tower there, of 600 feet, does not fall into that category. It just doesn't belong.”
"This is public property and the public should have much more of a say,” said Madeline Rogers.
The community board chair says this is just the beginning of a very long process.
"We're concerned about preserving the South Street Seaport Museum and its historic vessels because that's what makes the area unique,” said CB 1 chair Catherine McVay Hughes.
Up next is a town-hall style public hearing in January. Then, the skyscraper proposal would need approval from Landmarks and the City Planning Commission. If it gets all the approvals, ground would not be broken until spring of 2015.