Pier 17 Roof: SOS Statement at Community Board 1 Town Meeting 12.04.17

Save Our Seaport Testimony for Community Board #1 Town Meeting – 12.04.17

As your friends and neighbors in the South Street Seaport Historic District, we are greatly disturbed by the prospect of absorbing the significant impact on quality of life by the Howard Hughes Corporation’s (“HHC”) aspirational rooftop space which is preemptively promoted to be the “ premiere boutique entertainment venue in the world”. (2014 Letter to Shareholders)

For the past three years, we have already been troubled by the loud music and other noisy activities from the uplands in the absence of Pier 17, waking us for charity marches and disrupting our weekends and evenings where gratuitous corporate events with no relevance to their setting, are also making us unwitting musical patrons whenever the presenters and producers feel the beat.

SAVE OUR SEAPORT (“SOS”) advocates for the enforcement of the height restrictions that the City Planning Commission agreed to in the 2013 Pier 17 ULURP.  In 09.25.12 they mandated that since “The existing Pier 17 Building has a gabled roof, characteristic of its “festival marketplace” design, with varying roof heights and a maximum roof height of 77′-1″. The new Pier 17 Building will remain within this maximum roof height of 77′-1″ (not including mechanicals), but will have a flat roof, reflective of its industrial aesthetic… “Option B” will have a height of 62’4″. A pavilion structure on the roof, housing restaurant spaces, will have a roof height of 77′-1″, and a total maximum height of 79′-4″ in Option B, including mechanicals. In “Option B,” the rooftop event space would also have a roof at this same maximum height.”

HHC is now asking NYC Landmarks for a “temporary outdoor” rooftop that would be 103’ 4” when raised, a full 28’ higher than permitted. CB#1 is obviously concerned about “safety in high wind areas providing shelter for large gatherings of people.” (CB#1 11.28.17 resolution)

Protection of the commitment for public open space is another concern for SOS. On 11.27.12 Community Board 1 was told that there would be 40,000 sf of Public Access on the rooftop. Now we learn that there will only be a public corridor around the indoor restaurant/patio(s) totaling 10,000 sf. Additionally, the “privatized” portions of the rooftop will only be made available for no rental charge to a community based organization (such as the PTA of the neighborhood school or a youth center) up to four occasions a year.

As we see it, the rooftop is the tip of the iceberg.

At every turn the original outlines for the Pier 17 project have been mutating, more and more in our view to becoming a commercial monolith, less and less to the structure and purpose that was to be appropriate to the South Street Seaport Historic District and its maritime community.

Our gravest concern is that this same process will ultimately lead to the undoing of the Historic District itself. We see: No Master Plan, No Street of Ships, No Traffic Study for the Streets and Sidewalks, No Safety Plan for Overcrowding, and No Seaport Working Group.  The developer’s assertive rebranding of the South Street Seaport Historic District as The Seaport District, a place for fine dining, “aspirational retail,” and the Pier 17 rooftop “designed for the presentation of high-profile headline concerts” seems to erase the notion of history, waterfront, maritime, even neighborhood, from these streets.

We must not let this happen.

Download the statement.