In Pushing Seaport Redo, Developer General Growth Goes Retail

Facing a lengthy approval process and a wary community board, developer General Growth Properties is bringing its campaign to redevelop South Street Seaport to the streets, as it unveiled a storefront exhibit on the seaport this morning.

For the exhibit, "Seaport Past & Future," General Growth brought on architect and writer James Sanders to trace the area’s rich, dynamic history through five separate displays of the seaport at different time periods. The suggestion seemed to be that the seaport has always been marked by change, and the developer’s plan is only part of an evolution, as opposed to a strong break from the past.

Developers needing City Council approval for their plans often court the community with presentations and frequent meetings, but this is the only one we know of to open a storefront aimed, at least in part, at wooing the community pre-approval (the exhibit, 191 Front Street, is in a General Growth building by the seaport).

With plans to raze the existing James Rouse-built shopping center at Pier 17 and replace it with an apartment/hotel tower, new retail complex and boutique hotel, the company faces many hurdles–most notably trepidations about the height of the tower by much of the community board and the local councilman, Alan Gerson.

First stop before the Council, however, is a needed approval from the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. General Growth plans to seek that approval this fall and start the city’s seven-month rezoning process in early 2009.

The exhibit is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. In Pushing Seaport Redo, Developer General Growth Goes Retail