By Julie Shapiro
SOUTH STREET SEAPORT — The new owners of the South Street Seaport expect to announce their development plans within the next month or two, an executive said this week.
"We haven't confirmed the exact development plan, but we're working closely with the city to define a plan that meets their needs," Grant Herlitz, president of Howard Hughes Corp., told DNAinfo.
Herlitz said one option is to do a complete overhaul of the area, similar to what former owner General Growth Properties proposed in 2008. Under that scenario, Howard Hughes would raze the Pier 17 mall and replace it with low-rise buildings, move the historic Tin Building to the pier's tip and erect a tower on the site of the New Market building.
But Herlitz said another option would be to keep more of the existing buildings in place. Under that scenario, Howard Hughes might maintain part of the Pier 17 mall while demolishing the rest of it, Herlitz said.
"We're excited about the Seaport as a redevelopment [site]," Herlitz said. "We're working closely with the city to ensure we do the right thing."
After Howard Hughes announces its plans, the project will still have to go through a series of public reviews, including approvals from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the City Planning Department, the City Council and Community Board 1.
General Growth Properties' plan several years ago hit a roadblock when the Landmarks commission sharply criticized the drastic alterations to the pier. GGP declared bankruptcy shortly afterward, in April 2009, and the redevelopment has been on hold since then.
Howard Hughes, a General Growth Properties spinoff, took control of the property last year, and executives made it clear that they intended to redevelop the site.
And while GGP started restricting mall tenants to one-year leases once the company started thinking about redeveloping the pier, Howard Hughes has recently awarded two-to-five-year leases to some mall tenants, business owners said.
Downtown residents have been pressing Howard Hughes leaders to involve the community in their plans.
"We want to be a part of it," said Ann DeFalco, a Community Board 1 member who lives nearby.
Michael Piazzola, general manager of the Seaport, told CB1's Seaport/Civic Center Committee this week that the development team could give a public presentation as soon as April.