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Commission Slaps Down Howard Hughes' $1.4B Seaport Project Over Size Concerns

A rendering of the new development at 250 Water St.

Howard Hughes Corp.'s plans to build 350 condominiums across two skyscrapers on Water Street in Lower Manhattan have hit a major snag.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission did not approve the Houston-based developer's proposal, concluding the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Architects’ design, which would bring two 470-foot-high towers to 250 Water St., is too large for the area, The Tribeca Trib reported.

One panelist said the building would “invade the district’s sky space," per the publication.

“We appreciate the LPC’s thoughtful feedback and look forward to returning soon to the commission,” a Howard Hughes Corp. spokesperson said in a statement.

While the panel took no formal action, it was clear that the proposal wouldn't go forward in its current state.

Along with the development of the condos, the plans call for 100 below-market-rate rentals under the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing rules. Howard Hughes bought the vacant lot for the site in 2018 for $180M. The $1.4B proposal stretches some 350 feet higher than local zoning rules allow.

Howard Hughes would provide $50M to the South Street Seaport Museum along with an eventual approval. An earlier plan for a 1,000-foot tower on the site was met with community blowback, and LPC has previously rejected nine plans for the site, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

In December, Manhattan’s Community Board 1 voted against the project, following widespread concern from local residents about the height and contamination issues at the site. At the LPC hearing, Downtown Alliance President Jessica Lappin told the commission that the plan should receive support because of the sorely needed funds it would supply to the museum.

LPC Chair Sarah Carroll said the “laudable” benefits to the museum should not be considered when assessing whether the proposed design of the project is appropriate.