South Street Seaport Developer General Growth Saddled With Debt, Doubts

Things aren’t looking all that promising for General Growth Properties’ two Manhattan mega-projects, and not just because the company is foundering so badly that it was last week delisted from the Standard & Poor’s 500.

Though let’s not kid ourselves: A corporation in such dire straights that its stock has been deemed nearly worthless doesn’t seem in the best position to move forward with either a 1.7 million-square-foot mixed-used complex on East 125th Street, or a brand-new tower and retail complex at the South Street Seaport.

But there are, believe it or not, other reasons to be concerned. On Tuesday at 11 a.m., when General Growth appeared before the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission to discuss its South Street Seaport plans, representatives were met with the disapprobation of multiple commissioners.

“Most of the commissioners who spoke today felt the proposal was inappropriate,” said Lisi de Bourbon, spokeswoman for the commission, which has to approve the Seaport plans because they largely fall within an historic district and require the relocation of the landmarked Tin Building.

Even so, General Growth hasn’t announced, nor apparently informed the city, that it’s stepping back from either project. “Our intent is to continue as developer; that’s why we have invested so much in working with world-class planning experts and with the community to create our proposal,” said a General Growth spokesman, referring to the Seaport.

General Growth’s stock, as of Tuesday afternoon, was priced at $0.46 a share, and the firm has reportedly been desperately seeking help in paying down a staggering $27 billion in debt.