TESTIMONY OF THE ALLIANCE FOR DOWNTOWN NEW YORK COMMUNITY BOARD 1 TOWN HALL ON THE SOUTH STREET SEAPORT
I am Andrew Breslau, a Senior Vice President of the Alliance for Downtown New York, the Business Improvement District for Lower Manhattan. Thank you for allowing me a moment to speak this evening.
While the Seaport is not a part of our assessment area, it does falls within our larger boundaries and is a vital asset for the neighborhood and the entire city.
The planned transformation of Pier 17 is one the Alliance is excited about. Howard Hughes and SHOP’s reimagining of the Pier 17 building will add much needed open space on the pier as well as on the roof and the new retail space promises to add exciting destination stores, restaurants and neighborhood shops. We are confident that the plans for Pier 17 will add vitality and choice to Lower Manhattan’s retail and dining landscape. The planned rooftop performance space, when operated with discretion and sensitivity to community concerns, has the potential to make an important, and long needed, contribution to the cultural life of the neighborhood.
Howard Hughes’s interim programming on the site has been excellent and represents an encouraging sign that they understand both the needs of community and vast potential of the area.
The SEE/CHANGE campaign successfully engaged both residents and visitors to explore the Seaport area.
The summer activations –that included Smorgasbar, Pop-up retail containers, a Front Row Cinema, new seasonal retailers, the Seaport Music Festival, 4Knots Music Festival, Fulton Stall Market and its accompanying Sound Bites music series as well as Tech Tuesdays, brought a variety of new audiences to the Seaport in addition to those already familiar with its charm.
We are also excited by Howard Hughes plan to bring New iPic Theaters to Fulton Market. This kind of state of the art movie going option is much needed in the area.
Howard Hughes plans for the reconstruction of the landmark Tin Building and the addition of a marina and a 50-story hotel and apartment tower have sparked some concerns. This evening, the Alliance takes no position on the specific design and density details of this part of Howard Hughes’ proposal, but we do want to affirm and recognize the integrity of their proposal’s underlying logic.
In the present fiscal environment, the rehabilitation of the Pier, the necessary infrastructural improvements to the waterfront and Tin Building and the future of the Seaport Museum all have an intertwined destiny with the economic viability of the entire site.
This is not a one from column A and none from column B situation.
The costs of rebuilding the infrastructure around the seaport is simply one the city will not undertake. It is incumbent on all of us to work creatively and constructively with Howard Hughes to bring about the kind of investment and the kind of visionary project that best benefits both New York’s interests and the company’s bottom line.
A fully realized project will provide a significant economic boost to all of Lower Manhattan, catalyze interest in the area and stimulate business for the scores of small independent businesses in the surrounding area.