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Court Dismisses Challenge To Howard Hughes' Proposed Seaport Tower

Aerial image of the Seaport District in Lower Manhattan, with the Brooklyn Bridge in the foreground.

The Supreme Court of the State of New York ruled in favor of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission in its approval of The Howard Hughes Corp.’s plan to build a 325-foot residential tower in the Seaport Historic District. 

Supreme Court Justice Robert Engoron dismissed a case that the South Seaport Coalition waged against the city in May for approving the developer’s plans to erect a 25-story, 270-unit apartment building at 250 Water St., Crain’s New York Business reports. As proposed, the project would contain 70 affordable units and Howard Hughes would donate $50M to the South Street Seaport Museum. 

After the preservation commission gave its approval of the project in the spring, the resident coalition took it to court, claiming — among other things — that the commission didn't adequately consider the implications of a tower as tall as this one would have on the integrity of the historic area and that the commission illegally considered the developer’s plan to include affordable housing in its decision to approve the project. 

The coalition had claimed that the possibility that it would have to dispute the development through the ULURP process would cause it harm “because property values will fluctuate, because anxiety will increase, because decisions will have to be made under short deadlines,” Engoron wrote in his ruling. 

Engoron said the coalition failed to show how allowing the city’s development approval process to proceed, at this time, would cause undue hardship. 

“As respondents argue, none of these are recognizable cognizant injuries,” he said. “Any ULURP opposition is discretionary, and life is full of uncertainty not giving rise to cause of action.” 

In his dismissal, Engoron outlined how early in the approval process the development is.

“Simply put, the Certificate approved the design, but not the construction of the building and the LPC must approve the latter too,” he wrote in the decision. “Of particular note, in addition to various other approvals, the Department of Buildings must approve detailed construction plans, and the LPC must approve those … before the proverbial shovels can be put in the proverbial … ground."

The coalition said it will continue to push forward with the case, Crain’s reported.