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New plan for NYC's South Street Seaport
18 June 2008

NEW YORK (AP) - Saying the South Street Seaport had become an isolated, indoor shopping mall that doesn't connect to the neighborhood around it, a developer proposed Wednesday building a 42-story skyscraper evoking maritime themes and features such as an outdoor food market to attract more pedestrians.

Chicago-based General Growth Properties' proposal has the Bloomberg administration's support for the redevelopment of the city-owned property. But it needs approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission to move a 19th-century building once used by the Fulton Fish Market a few hundred feet to make room for the skyscraper. The developer also wouldn't say how much the project would cost or whether it had financing.

The 42-story building, covered with a terra cotta exoskeleton meant to resemble fishnetting, would have a three-story shopping mall topped by apartments and a hotel, said Michael McNaughton, a General Growth vice president.

General Growth also wanted to replace the fish market, which moved to the Bronx a few years ago, with an outdoor specialty food market and create a cluster of two-story retail buildings, 2 more acres of open space for pedestrians and a second, boutique hotel.

McNaughton referred to the current seaport district, which has several indoor, mostly chain stores surrounding a cobblestoned open space facing the waterfront, as "an appendage to the city" rather than part of it.

"New Yorkers are not typically mall people," he said. "The project as it is designed today really turns its back to the community."

The seaport was designed to shield the fish market from the rest of the neighborhood, he said, so it isolated itself from the rest of downtown Manhattan.

If approvals and financing are obtained, he said, building for most of the project would begin in 2009 and be finished by 2014. Approvals to convert the former fish market into outdoor food stalls, however, could come within two months, he said.

City Councilman Alan Gerson, who represents the district, said Wednesday the proposal was "not acceptable" as is, raising concerns about the height of the tower compared to the low-rise buildings around it. But he said he was willing to work with the developer.
 

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""New Yorkers are not typically mall people," he said. "The project as it is designed today really turns its back to the community."

The seaport was designed to shield the fish market from the rest of the neighborhood, he said, so it isolated itself from the rest of downtown Manhattan."

Although New Yorkers might not go there much, I always see plenty of tourists there! It's quite a nice area actually, a place where you're not always dwarfed by towering skyscrapers.
 
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