South Street Seaport Businesses Worried About Pier 17 Overhaul

Thursday, March 14, 2013

More than four months after Sandy, the cobblestone lanes of the South Street Seaport look like something out of The Walking Dead

Eighty-five percent of the shops, cafes and restaurants are shuttered, according to a recent survey. Storefronts are blacked out or boarded up, and the few tourists fumble around like zombies, not sure where to go. 

"It's gut-wrenching," says Amanda Byron Zink, a Seaport business owner and resident. 

Most neighborhoods downtown are back to normal, but the Seaport has yet to have its renaissance post Sandy.

Business owners say they have encountered roadblocks like tricky negotiations with landlords over rent or securing loans to rebuild. 

Many of them now worry that a busy construction site from the redevelopment of Pier 17 will drive away even more customers.

"It's definitely not at the right time for us financially," said Calli Lerner, co-owner of the wine bar Bin 220, which has yet to re-open post-Sandy. 

The owner of the pier — the Howard Hughes Corporation — plans to tear down the 1980s-era mall with its gabled roof and replace it with a modern, glass shopping complex with a grassy rooftop concert venue and more than 80,000 square feet of public space along the waterfront. 

"Our intent with Pier 17 is to make an immediate investment in the Seaport, creating a vital, compelling community anchor for Lower Manhattan," a Howard Hughes spokesperson said in a statement.

Construction is scheduled to start by July 1, according the New York City Economic Development Corporation. That date could be delayed, however, if the City Council decides the project needs to be modified. 

"We're looking at really trying to get them to delay it in some way so that the businesses in Pier 17 can stay through the summer," City Councilwoman Margaret Chin said in a recent interview.

That would help the businesses in the pier, some of which have already started to vacate the indoor mall, as well as the businesses in the process of reopening, which will benefit from the extra summer foot traffic. 

The City Council is holding a public hearing Thursday, March 14 at 9:30 a.m., where opponents and supporters of the redevelopment project can share their views. 

SHoP Architects/Howard Hughes Corporation
Architectural rendering of the design for Pier 17
SHoP Architects/Howard Hughes Corporation
Architectural rendering of the design for Pier 17
SHoP Architects/Howard Hughes Corporation
Architectural rendering of the design for Pier 17
SHoP Architects/Howard Hughes Corporation
Architectural rendering of the design for Pier 17
SHoP Architects/Howard Hughes Corporation
Architectural rendering of the design for Pier 17


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Comments [7]

Giorgio I. from London

Totally agree the design for Pier 17 couldn't be more inappropriate .... it does not take in consideration the history or the surrounding ....can they please ask more option for the design....a little reminder this is NYC Manhattan ....not suburbia of a big town !!!!!!!

Oct. 14 2013 05:12 PM

I don't mind remodelling but the design is just ugly. No offense to the architect but what's up with this? please don't make it into another jacob javitz or msg!

Mar. 26 2013 10:16 AM
Richard dorfman from NYC

The hand in hand dealings between EDC and Howard Hughes will drastically erode the remaining character of the neighborhood if they are allowed to sneak that sore thumb of a design past the community board and other stakeholders who will be stuck holding the bag for corrupt political monkey-business. Do New Yorkers really want to allow out of town moguls to determine how we will live?

Mar. 18 2013 08:27 AM

The intrinsic character of the South Street Seaport is long gone, fallen prey to the crass over-commercialization of the area-at-large.

Mar. 18 2013 03:28 AM

I agree. I "live" in the seaport (obviously not at the moment) and having to see this proposed eyesore every day is not something I'm really looking forward to. A lot of the new development in the area is beautiful, but this seems like it will stick out like a sore thumb.

Mar. 16 2013 01:06 AM
M. Hill

Margaret Fell, sorry but in my opinion your comments about the malls in New Jersey are totally misguided. I think you might want to get out of your armchair and take a trip to a few of the mall in that which you refer to as Noo Joizy! There are several malls that make The Seaport look like "forgotten war-zone!" Also, their malls are very compatible with the "present and the future". By the way, several are owned and operated by the same corporations that are attempting to bring Pier 17 "into the present!"

Mar. 14 2013 11:02 AM
Margaret Fell

Boy, the new design for Pier 17 couldn't be more inappropriate, could it? The Seaport is an Historic District. The flooded design was barely contextual; this is 100% out of context. Moreover, it's a really mediocre design in and of itself-- it looks like a development somewhere in Queens. It would be interesting to see what the proposed interior design will be-- the 1980s-era mall was the pits. Outside was the historic seaport; inside, you coulda been in Noo Joizy.

Mar. 14 2013 08:56 AM

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