Is it pier pressure?
Seaport mall owner to present plans likely to demolish structure in favor of commercial, residential building.
South Street Seaport’s Pier 17 probably will be razed to make way for a retail, residential and open-space development, a spokeswoman for the property’s leaseholder said yesterday.
Though the company is exploring a range of options, the three-story shopping mall named for the pier upon which it was built likely will be demolished, said Cheri Fein, a spokeswoman for General Growth Properties, a Chicago-based real estate company that owns and operates more than 200 malls nationwide. Fein did not elaborate on the specific plans.
Asked how high a new structure might go, Fein said: “The lower you go, the less open space there is – but nothing has been decided.
“There is also the recognition that it is not just a land-bound place,” she said. “We want to make it 360 [degrees], so that it can be reached by the ferry as well.”
According to one person familiar with the developer’s initial plan, General Growth is considering a tall building for the site, and would build a ferry landing and relocate the landmark Tin Building of the former Fulton Fish Market. The rest of the pier would be left as open space.
Preliminary concepts for the pier and former fish market will be discussed publicly for the first time Monday, when General Growth meets with Community Board 1 for feedback on its plans. The real estate company acquired the East River site in 2004. Waterfront advocates said General Growth should be given a fair chance to present its ideas.
“We look at the seaport as emblematic of every waterfront neighborhood today – caught in the middle of looking back at the past and looking forward to the future,” said Carter Craft, director of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, a grassroots public education and advocacy alliance. “The synergy between commerce and maritime history has always been the vision, but it has just eluded everybody thus far.”
On Monday, the company is to reveal some basic mapping for the site to begin a dialogue about the project, which does not have a timetable, Fein said.
It’s too soon to say what kind of zoning approval, if any, General Growth would need, because the site lies within a number of special zoning, national, local, historic and landmark districts, said Jennifer Torres, a spokeswoman for the Department of City Planning.
Most waterfront advocates would not shed tears over the loss of the Pier 17 mall, a mix of chain stores, restaurants and specialty shops completed in 1983. The mall is a cumbersome structure, said Lee Gruzen of SeaportSpeaks, a group of local stakeholders. Thus far, she said, General Growth has done a great job of working with the community.
“The future of the seaport is grounded in bringing its maritime history to life in a way that benefits those who work, live and visit there,” Gruzen said.
BY MICHAEL CLANCY
February 23, 2007