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Landmarks Finally Greenlights Howard Hughes' Scaled-Back Seaport Project

The most recent rendering for a planned development at 250 Water St.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission has given its blessing to The Howard Hughes Corp.'s plan to build a new residential project in the Seaport Historic District after multiple attempts by the developer to win the board's approval.

The scaled-down plan to build a nearly 270-unit apartment project was approved Tuesday by a vote of 6-2, according to a spokesperson for the developer, who said the LPC received 700 letters of support for the project.

“The broad array of community residents, preservationists, elected officials, architects, cultural organizations, local business owners and nonprofit leaders who support our project agree that the Seaport’s best days are ahead and that this project will play a vital role in New York City's inclusive post-pandemic economic recovery,” Howard Hughes Corp. New York Tri-State Region President Saul Scherl said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with the community, elected officials and the City as we move into the land-use approval process later this month.”

The developer is seeking a special permit for the height and setback, as well as an air rights transfer from other sites the developer controls.

In January, the LPC slapped down the developer's plans, claiming its design for two 470-foot-high towers to 250 Water St., were too large for the area — with one panelist saying it would “invade the district’s sky space.”

In March, the company returned with a new proposal from the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill that was nearly 30% smaller than the original plan. The number of apartments was reduced, too; instead of 360 apartments, it would now feature 270 units, with 70 set aside as affordable housing for families with an income of around $45K per year. The towers would reach 27 stories instead of 38, and the project's total square footage was reduced from 757K SF to 550K SF. The tallest building would reach just over 300 feet.

The cost of the new project is slated to be roughly $850M, and the company had previously said if it were not given approval from the LPC, it would build as of right, without any affordable housing or promised financial support to the South Street Seaport Museum.

Local residents had rallied against the original plan, with Manhattan’s Community Board 1 rejecting the plan late last year. Construction is now set to begin next year, pending Uniform Land-Use Review Procedure approval.