Through our ongoing work with our local community members and partners, we’ve received valuable input on our process and proposals. Below, we’ve gathered the most common questions to help introduce new participants to the conversation.
What is HHC proposing at 250 Water Street?
The proposal would transform the 50-year-old parking lot at 250 Water Street into a mixed-use development that would include the first affordable housing built in Manhattan Community Board 1 through New York City’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program. The project would also include market rate housing, office space and community space.
What’s the plan for the Seaport Museum?
The HHC plan will yield significant funding for the South Street Seaport Museum to save it from likely permanent closure, restore its existing historic building, reopen it to the public for the first time since Hurricane Sandy, enhance its educational programing, ensure the long-term stability of its endowment, and advance planning and design for a new Museum building.
Is HHC committed long-term to the Seaport?
The Howard Hughes Corporation is solidly committed to the Seaport and New York City for the long-term. The company aims to address key needs in the area through a significant investment – while also boosting the city’s economy and creating jobs. HHC’s commitment to the area extends beyond this project, however: over the past decade, Howard Hughes has invested over $900 million in preserving and developing the Seaport, creating thousands of part-time and full-time jobs and generating $1 billion in economic activity.
How has community feedback factored into your plans?
Over the past year, HHC and SOM launched a community engagement process to inform a comprehensive Seaport planning framework. Outreach included three Seaport Stakeholder Workshops, online surveys and pop-up events, presentations before Manhattan Community Board 1, and an ongoing dialogue with local residents and businesses, educational, healthcare institutions and elected officials, who provided extensive input into the neighborhood’s needs and ideas for improvements (full report here). Across all stakeholder groups, there was an emphasis on ensuring the long-term stability of the South Street Seaport Museum, which is a cornerstone of our plan. At the same time, earlier concepts included a potential single tower standing nearly 1,000 feet. After receiving feedback from community members, Community Board 1 and elected officials, the team reworked the plan to one that reached 470 feet at its highest point. After hearing from the LPC commissioners at a public hearing in January, the plan was reduced to a height that does not exceed 345 feet.
Zoning doesn’t currently allow a tall building at 250 Water Street. How is HHC proposing to do this?
HHC proposes to transfer unused development rights from its waterfront properties to 250 Water Street, which is set back from the river. This would allow for the preservation of the low-rise character of the waterfront, while facilitating the creation of much-needed affordable housing in a mixed-use upland development adjacent to the Financial District and securing the long-term stability of a revitalized South Street Seaport Museum.
What is the status of the New Market site?
The site is controlled by the City of New York and is located outside the historic district. The City has stated its intention to demolish the current structure at a later date.
The 250 Water Street site is on the edge of an historic district. Given that, what is HHC’s rationale for building beyond the existing height limitation there? How is the proposed density appropriate?
The upland 250 Water Street site, currently used as an outmoded parking lot, sits across the street one of the highest density communities in the country — the Financial District — and just blocks away from Fulton Center, one of the city’s busiest subway stations. It’s important to take advantage of every opportunity to grow the city responsibly, especially when building affordable housing in a high-income area is an option. This means adding density where it’s contextual and supported by existing mass transit. Water Street, adjacent to the Financial District, and a few blocks from Fulton Center makes perfect sense for that type of growth.
When will construction begin? How long will construction take? When will the new Museum and 250 Water Street project open?
Construction of 250 Water is expected to take 36 months and will commence once all public approvals are in place.
What are the details of the affordable housing component at 250 Water?
250 Water will deliver more than 70 critically needed permanently affordable rental apartments for lower income families earning 40% of AMI (around $45,000 for a family of four) under the City’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program in a Community District with an average household income above $150,000. The affordable housing, comprising a quarter of all apartments in the building, will consist of studios, one- and two-bedrooms.
Will there be any space in the new development for community activities?
Yes, there will be approximately 5,000 square feet of community activity space for use by all residents of the new building, as well as the broader community.
What are the economic impact and job benefits of the overall proposal?
The project will provide significant economic benefits for the area and city at a time when the need for private investment in its long-term future is urgent. Construction of 250 Water alone will generate more than $1.1 billion in economic output over three years for both the city and the state, $551 million in new labor income, and roughly 1,000 construction jobs. Once the building is open, the site is projected to create an estimated 2,150 new direct and indirect full and part-time positions, and annually generate $567 million in economic output for New York City, along with $287 million in wages, salaries and benefits.
What additional project approvals are required?
The formal public review process began by seeking review and approval from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. The project was revised based on the commissioners response in a January 2021 public hearing. An updated proposal will be presented to the LPC in April. Following that, the proposal will enter the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, known as ULURP, which calls for review by Community Board 1, the Manhattan Borough President, City Planning Commission and New York City Council. Each step of this review process provides opportunities for public consultation and additional input with a minimum of seven public hearings during 2021.
What development is permitted under existing zoning at 250 Water Street?
Building under the existing as-of-right zoning would result in a squat, dense, approximately 300,000-square-foot development (120 feet high plus up to 40 feet for mechanical equipment), which would impede light and air to adjacent buildings. And it would not include any affordable housing or support for SSSM.
When will the 250 Water Street site environmental remediation be completed? How can the public know the site is safe for construction?
As owners of the 250 Water Street site, HHC is engaged in planning for the full environmental remediation of the site, working closely with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Health as part of the rigorous voluntary Brownfield Cleanup Program, communicating routinely with local stakeholders, and funding an independent community monitor to ensure the testing process is safe. There is a dedicated site tracking progress here.