Thursday, October 17, 2013

South Street Seaport Redevelopment Breaks Ground

A disaster to some, a sign of revitalization to others — no matter what you think of the redevelopment plans, the controversial makeover of Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport has officially begun. Today’s groundbreaking ceremony marked the beginning of the pier’s $200 million transformation by the Howard Hughes Corporation, which will knock down the monolithic marketplace and replace it with a modern, 300,000-square-foot glass complex. The new design includes a 1-1/2 acre rooftop and amphitheater with room for 4,000 people. The company estimated construction will create 1,000 jobs and generate $260 million in economic output. 

An iconic East River tourist spot is getting a bold new look. The South Street Seaport has always provided a link to the city’s gritty maritime past, but it’s getting a glitzy face lift.

The one-time tourist magnet — which had fallen on hard times even before Hurricane Sandy laid waste to the area — on Thursday began a  makeover that will turn it into a mega-mall and event space.

[see ElectricWeb|Blogger, March 27, 2013]

“The new Pier 17 will inject the Seaport with new life and fresh energy,” said one supporter, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, at the groundbreaking ceremony in Lower Manhattan this afternoon.  “I’m happy to say that the best days are still to come for the Seaport and that the future really does start right here, today.”

Construction on a new, glassy retail mall at the Sandy-battered Pier 17 in lower Manhattan will officially begin this week.

Howard Hughes Corp. plans to tear down the three-story Pier 17 pavilion, which was only 28 years old, and replace it with a glittering glass 300,000-plus-square-foot multilevel shopping center complex featuring a 1-1/2-acre rooftop.

That open space will include an upscale restaurant, two bars and an amphitheater that will hold up to 4,000 people for concerts and other events.

The project is expected to be completed by 2016 and generate more than 1,000 jobs.

The 11-acre South Street Seaport is tied with the Great Wall of China as the world’s 26th most visited attraction, ahead of the Louvre in Paris, according to Travel & Leisure magazine.

But despite its views of the Brooklyn Bridge and lower Manhattan and cobblestone charm, it never became the commercial mecca the city had hoped. The pier survived Hurricane Sandy relatively unscathed but the storm racked businesses in the area and forced several stores and restaurants to close.

Howard Hughes is hoping to make the new pier the linchpin of a larger plan to reinvigorate the greater South Street Seaport area. The company has exercised an option to redevelop the Tin Building and another property at the site called the New Market building, according to the Economic Development Corp., which owns South Street Seaport and Pier 17 and leases it to Howard Hughes.

“You’re going to have an offering of entertainment, culture, food offerings and retail,” said David Weinreb, CEO of Howard Hughes Corporation. “The redeveloped South Street Seaport will become the premier boutique entertainment venue in the world.”

The company is also planning to lease up space it controls in historic buildings along Fulton Street that are part of the seaport complex.

But not everyone is as pleased with what’s to come.

Several area residents have protested the plans since their inception last year, saying they will only contribute to the commercialization of the historic area.

Opposition only intensified in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, as many Pier 17 businesses struggling to rebound faced eviction before the old mall was shuttered for construction. Just one lone tenant, Simply Seafood, remains, locked in a legal battle with the company.

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