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Seaport Named One of the Most Endangered Historic Sites in the Country

By Irene Plagianos | June 24, 2015 10:26am | Updated on June 26, 2015 5:05pm
 The neighborhood, under controversial development, was added to the most endangered historic sites list.
South Street Seaport
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SOUTH STREET SEAPORT — The South Street Seaport was named one of the country's most endangered historic sites Wednesday by a national preservation organization.

As controversy continues to swirl around the redevelopment of the waterfront neighborhood, the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced that the Seaport has made its America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places” list.

The annual list "spotlights important examples of the nation’s architectural, cultural and natural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage," the trust said.

At the center of the trust's new designation is the proposal for a high-rise tower on the East River waterfront that would require a historic, but dilapidated, former Fulton Fish Market warehouse to be torn down. The trust is also concerned about the razing of the Tin Building, another neighboring fish market building, due to neglect.

“The proposed developments will have an overwhelming impact on the historic neighborhood, diminishing the Seaport’s unique relationship to the water and compromising the most intact 19th century neighborhood in Manhattan,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “If it were constructed on a pier jutting over the water, the tower would alter the character of the waterfront and block views of the Brooklyn Bridge to and from the historic Seaport."

The trust's lists includes other well-known sites, like the Old U.S. Mint in San Francisco and the Grand Canyon.

The Seaport's developer, The Howard Hughes Corporation, however, said recently that the plan to build a 494-foot luxury high-rise in the South Street Seaport will be “significantly revised.”

Chris Curry, the company's senior executive vice president, reiterated the company's desire to alter the building proposal in a statement Wednesday.

"In response to community concerns, we are exploring a significant reduction to the height of the proposed building on the New Market site," Curry said. "As we've stated from the beginning of this process, our long-term vision for the Seaport celebrates the area's rich history by creating a vibrant Seaport District while also preserving its historic fabric and architecture, puts the South Street Seaport museum on sound financial footing and reestablishes New York's cherished connection to the working waterfront."

The company has long said that the tower would fund more than $300 million in public benefits, which include affordable housing, a school and money for the cash-strapped maritime museum.

The city Economic Development Corporation, which leased the property to Howard Hughes, did not immediately return a request for comment.