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Thread: Protests over Milstein's Seaport development Downtown

  1. #1

    Default Protests over Milstein's Seaport development Downtown

    Daily News...

    Milsteins face community protests


    As Howard Milstein broke ground yesterday on a 35-story office building in Times Square, a downtown coalition was gearing up to fight a future Milstein project at the South Street Seaport.

    Downtown groups including Community Board 1 are pushing to restrict development in the Seaport neighborhood. Proponents of the zoning change talk about preserving the area's historic character but admit they have one overriding goal: Stop the Milsteins, one of New York's best-known real estate families.

    "There's been a history of one particular site - the Milstein site - making effort after effort for the last several years to build large-scale buildings," said Paul Goldstein, the community board's district manager. "We have a real opportunity to recapture this area and make it into something special."

    The controversy centers on a parking lot at 250 Water St. that the Milsteins bought in 1979. Bounded also by Beekman Street, Pearl Street and Peck Slip, the lot's zoning permits a building of 480,000 square feet - half the size of the Woolworth Building.

    Neighbors have battled development of the site for years. The Milsteins have proposed at least six different plans, ranging from office buildings to apartments. Because their lot sits in the Seaport Historic District, any designs must be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

    After seeing several plans rejected, the Milsteins finally won approval for an 11-story office building in 1991. But they cancelled the project. More recently, the family has reportedly proposed a twin-towered apartment complex of 14 and 30 stories.

    The proposed zoning change would stop that, reducing the maximum building size to 289,000 square feet and setting a 120-foot height limit - about ten stories for an apartment building.

    The borough president and city planning commission must review and approve the change. Meanwhile, the Milsteins have been meeting with city officials and hired well-connected lawyers Ross Moskowitz and Steve Lefkowitz to help press their case.

    Howard Milstein declined to comment on the zoning dispute, preferring to focus attention on his new Times Square building, going up at Eighth Avenue and 42nd Street.

    Milstein, his father and brother won control of that site after a protracted legal battle with other family members. Though the Times Square building could become apartments, Milstein said yesterday he did not fear building a speculative office building in an environment of low demand for office space.

    "Our family knows the pioneering spirit always pays off," Howard Milstein said.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    NYC - Hoboken

    Default Protests over Millstein's Seaport development Downtown

    Maybe Millstein should wait a few more years until some of these fossils move or die. *All of those open parking lots in that area are ripe for some great projects. *But I almost think it would be better to keep them as parking lots for another 10 years than waste this valueble land on stupid 10 story buildings. *Give me a break, that whole area down there I think sucks. *The neighbors should be happy for anyone to finally build something there. *Unless they enjoy living in a ocean of concrete parking lots...

  3. #3

    Default Protests over Millstein's Seaport development Downtown

    Seriously, who lives there anyways?

  4. #4

    Default Protests over Millstein's Seaport development Downtown

  5. #5

    Default Protests over Millstein's Seaport development Downtown

    250 Water Street Tower I
    250 Water Street
    30/32-->24 stories
    Platt, Byard, Dovell, White Architects

    250 Water Street Tower II
    250 Water Street
    14-->13 stories--> <120 feet
    Platt, Byard, Dovell, White Architects

    Rendering of the old proposal from Platt, Byard, Dovell, White Architects' site \ *

    A picture of the site.

    From Platt, Byard, Dovell, White Architects' site:

    250 Water Street
    New York City
    For a full block site in the South Street Seaport Historic District, we have designed a 372,000 sf residential complex. A base, at the same scale as the historic row houses and warehouses, fills the site. Above this rise two taller forms, one of 24 stories and the other of 13, shaped to work with each other and with the base to create an integrated composition. The expression is deliberately contemporary, with the towers growing out of the architecture of the base and the District. This expression derives principally from the play of transparency, light, and shadow on metal and glass surfaces. The horizontal emphasis of the base reflects its program of retail and service spaces and mediates with the overall height of the complex. Its glass and terra cotta complement the patinated masonry of the older buildings in the District.

    Here's a timeline in articles about the eventual downsizing of the development.

    From The Tribeca Trib

    Long Battle Ends as Council Approves Seaport Rezoning

    By Ronald Drengerr

    A 20-year struggle is over.

    The City Council on April 30 unanimously approved Community Board 1’s plan to change zoning in the South Street Seaport historic district, significantly limiting the size of any future development there.

    The changes include CB1’s desired height cap of 120 feet, which was opposed by two city agencies.

    “We’re thrilled,” said Paul Goldstein, CB1’s district manager, who worked extensively on crafting the rezoning plan. “I think we made a compelling argument that this is the best plan for the future of the seaport.”

    For two decades, the community board and a coalition of residents and business groups have fought to prevent large-scale development in the area, where most buildings, many from the 19th century, are four or five stories.

    Many times, they helped to block a powerful developer, Milstein Properties, from putting up a tall building at 250 Water Street, the site most affected by the rezoning.

    Barring a mayoral veto, which is not expected, they can now rest easier.

    “We have been able to preserve the historical waterfront that is a treasure to all of New York,” said Councilman Alan Gerson, who lobbied his colleagues to support the rezoning. “We support development, but we cannot allow new development to destroy our history. There’s ample room in our great city for both.”

    In following the lead of its Land Use Committee, which had unanimously approved the rezoning plan earlier in the month, the City Council took the unusual step of overriding both the City Planning Commission and the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

    In March, City Planning had approved most of CB1’s proposal, but with Landmarks’ support, it raised the height limit from 120 to 170 feet. The commissions said the height would give developers more flexibility, particularly at 250 Water Street, while keeping the area’s historic character.

    But CB1 argued that a 170-foot building would be inappropriate in the 10-block historic district, bounded by Fulton, Pearl, Dover and South streets, where the tallest existing building is 96 feet high.

    The debates over the “downzoning” proposal focused on 250 Water Street. Milstein lobbied against the downzoning, which prohibits the developer’s latest plan for the site, a residential complex with 13- and 24-story towers.

    Milstein said that under the proposed restrictions, whether the height limit was 120 or 170 feet, it would be impossible to develop a profitable or attractive building, and that the firm would leave the site a parking lot.

    The city wants to see 250 Water Street developed, to help revitalize Downtown, and Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff’s office has been negotiating with Milstein to make that possible, even under the new zoning.

    They are believed to be discussing a deal in which the city would acquire the site in exchange for giving Milstein development rights elsewhere, possibly also in Lower Manhattan. The city could then seek a developer willing to build at 250 Water Street.

    In addition to the height cap, the rezoning limits the size of a building on the site to roughly 290,000 square feet, a drastic reduction from the 480,000 square feet permitted under existing rules.

    CB1 and its supporters emphasized that they were not trying to block development at the Seaport, but to ensure that the development is appropriate.

    “Our plan is one that has worked over and over, in city after city, to restore and rebuild historic waterfront districts and turn them into popular destinations,” Goldstein said.

    The rezoning was supported by Downtown’s elected officials and many civic organizations, including the Downtown Alliance, the Municipal Art Society and the Landmarks Conservancy.

    The changes resolve a conflict between landmarks rules and zoning regulations that has existed since the area was designated a historic district in 1977: The Landmarks Commission had to approve development in the area as appropriate to the historical context, but the zoning allowed big buildings.
    Each time Milstein presented a new plan, the community board had to rally troops to persuade the Landmarks Commission to turn it down.t

    (Edited by Derek2k3 at 11:55 am on July 10, 2003)

  6. #6

    Default Protests over Millstein's Seaport development Downtown

    Great info guys, thanks!

    Ahhh, South Street Seaport. A failed Mall, Abercrombie and Fitch, a couple very substandard tourist restaurants and an ignored museum with great potential. I think they recently have sold one of the old wooden ships to another city and of course Fulton Fish Market is no more.

    What to do, what to do.

    I don't know about the rest of you NY'ers but I never go there. The whole place seems staged albeit not to any exciting effect. In reality it is one of the last pieces of old, maritime NY left standing, at the same time it is the realm of the tourist and offers little to no value for a city dweller. I too am suprised to hear there is a NIMBY element down there given I don't recall seeing much housing adjacent other than some dreary 1970's concrete highrises a few blocks away.

    It's just one of those places that ironically to me is not really NYC despite the historic architecture and vast history. I think the powers that be tried too hard to Bostonize the area forgetting that NYC isn't Boston and SSSP lacks the access and draw power when compared to so many more exciting areas of our city.

    So really there are two general paths from here IMO; either slicken the place up as a respectable dollar machine for the tourist trade ala Quincy Market/Fisherman's Wharf and provide the public access- that means trolleys, hotels, better retail and more quality entertainment or let the real city back in to reclaim it with new residential, an ampitheater or park and the type of quirky restaurants and retail that are beloved up in the Village.

    The half-hearted approach clearly isn't working. Beside the fantastic views of Brooklyn Bridge I'm frankly embarrased to take visitors there.

  7. #7
    Banned Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY

    Default Protests over Millstein's Seaport development Downtown

    I think part of the problem is the lack of a larger residential community. *Here they are trying to move forward on plans to develop and increase residential units and we have a small population of people wielding a disproportinate amount of power. *Are CB1's votes binding? Can they be overruled? *A large parcel will never see anything developed in Manhattan at 120 feet. *Their vote is definitely anti-development.

    Ramble, Ramble, Ramble...

  8. #8
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    New York City

    Default Protests over Millstein's Seaport development Downtown

    It's not as if they're tearing down a historic building, it's a parking lot!

  9. #9

    Default Protests over Millstein's Seaport development Downtown

    Within the arbitrary district limits everything must conform to the cliché. Tourists want to discover what they expect and residents want peace and quiet.

  10. #10

    Default Southbridge Seaport

    is a middle-income Mitchell-Lama co-op housing development and has been there for about 35-years (how long have any of you been in the area? an afternoon). Some 1,000 plus apartments are in the complex, and the rather senior tenants tend to VOTE, which is why the Milsteins have been stopped so often. There are many issues. The height of the Seaport area, since the lot is part of it. The air and sunlight (there are even sun cells on the roofs of the buildings) of Southbridge. There is the perenial fight for water views, since Southbridge might go condo. I don't think another monster nothing building would serve any purpose and the city now has ambitious plans for Peck Slip, which could be dwarfed. The parking lot sucks, certainly, but the Milsteins greed would also not do anyone much good. I also agree that the area is weird, but not really a tourist trap anymore, it is too downscale. Things have though suddenly heated up very fast with the fish smell and noise gone.

  11. #11
    Banned Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY


    There are actually very ambitious plans for the South Street Seaport that would transform the area in a way more aligned with the overall development of Downtown.

  12. #12

    Default maybe gentrification, but not very fast

    The gentrification of the Seaport will happen over time if the economy holds up, but is not something that is coming so fast. Right now the Seaport is a total failure as an upscale place (Yankee yachts were the Rockefeller dream) and is all fast food and completely unappealing stuff for European and Japanese tourists, who used to come here. Ditto for Fulton and Nassau and Broadway near Nassau -- and there is a great deal of schlock, a great deal. If the West Side and Batttery Park consists of white upper-class anorexics jogging forever, the East Side and Seaport is all about people of color about to pass out overweight and diabetic, TOTALLY different cultures. And there are real problems. Pace is not NYU, for instance, even as NYU bought the old Coffee Exchange. Southbridge itself is key but the condo conversion seems many years away if it is ever going to happen. Actually there is more of a sense of a neighborhood under siege -- given the police headquarter blockades -- than anything on the West Side.

  13. #13

    Default Development on the South Side of the Seaport

    I noticed they are quickly demolishing the two piers between the NY Waterway Ferry landing (pier 11) and the Seaport (pier 17). Anyone know what is going on there? Update: The piers are now gone, it took just over a week to remove them.

    Apologies for cross posting - but the other thread I posted this on isn't active.

  14. #14



    All threads with recent posts are active.

    Your question wasn't answered because no one who read it knows the answer.

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