A plan to build a 494-foot luxury condo tower by Pier 17 has been officially scrapped, after extended blowback from residents, local politicians, and interest groups. The Howard Hughes Corporation's initial plans for a 650-foot tower were met with such forceful pushback that the group reduced the proposed height from 50 stories to 42 in November 2014; when the opposition did not die down, however, the plans stalled, and the tower idea has now been abandoned, DNAinfo reports.
Opposition to the development centered around the fact that the towering glass structure would obscure views of the Brooklyn bridge and disrupt the historic architecture that characterizes the seaport. Indeed, South Street Seaport was named one of the 11 most endangered historic places in America this past summer, with the National Trust arguing that "the tower and other development proposals threaten to dramatically alter a historic neighborhood that has endured for generations."
Over the summer, Howard Hughes CEO David Weinreb told Mayor de Blasio that the corporation was working to "address the height issue," and called opposition to the development a "gross mischaracterization of the Seaport’s redevelopment process." But now, Weinreb appears to have bowed to public opinion: at a Community Board 1 meeting on December 15th, Howard Hughes's executive vice president of development Christopher Curry said the developer will instead build a shorter commercial building on the same site, the former Fulton Fish Market warehouse.
Scrapping the tower will allay concerns about its height and potential to block views of the Brooklyn Bridge. However, the Howard Hughes Corporation is still developing the area; it has yet to elaborate on the commercial building that will replace the planned tower, but is also planning a shopping complex and a locally-sourced food market in the neighboring Tin Building. Judging by the initial promotional video for the development (which still included the luxury tower), the glass-and-wood aesthetic is still notably different than the seaport's 19th century original brick buildings.
A spokesperson for the Howard Hughes Corporation said in a statement, "We continue to work on a revised mixed-use development plan taking into account feedback from the community and elected officials which requests the omission of a residential tower. We are steadfast in our commitment to the revitalization of the storied Seaport District, making it once again one of New York's premier destinations and a much needed anchor for the people of Lower Manhattan."