Dear Mayor de Blasio:
This year on the Fourth of July, New Yorkers were denied access to view the annual Macy’s 4th of July fireworks from Howard Hughes Corporation’s Pier 17. Although obligated by agreement with the City of New York to provide 10,000 sf (25% of the rooftop) open to the public at all times, HHC excluded the public from Pier 17, reserving it for its VIP invites, the NBC media crews, and those who could afford the gilt-edged cost of the party offered elsewhere on the pier.
When local activist (and Save Our Seaport member) Stacy Shub took this complaint to elected officials and the news media, the developer offered space for 300 aboard the near-by vessel Wavertree, rented for the evening from the South Street Seaport Museum. In our view this offer was not made as a gesture to public access but as a cynical means to mollify local political criticism.
In terms of numbers and in terms of access, this cannot be considered a substitute for the space on Pier 17. Save Our Seaport calls upon the City to enforce its lease terms. -The City must require a financial penalty to be paid by the developer for this egregious violation of its lease. -The City must specify additional steps to prevent further violations in the future. Howard Hughes Corporation is not above the law.
Back in 2016, this developer received valuable concessions from the City to waive zoning requirements, relocate the land marked Tin Building and create a service road east of the FDR drive. They must respect the protections in effect to preserve the South Street Seaport Historic District or there must be consequences for their business.
Respectfully, Save Our Seaport David Sheldon, Steering Committee
cc: Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, City Council Member Margaret Chin, Deputy Mayor Vicki Been, Comptroller Scott M. Stringe,r Congressman Jerrold Nadle,r Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, State Senator Brian Kavanagh
We requested and received a response from Howard Hughes Corporation:
To the editor:
We were pleased to support and host the famed Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks celebration, bringing the fireworks back to Lower Manhattan, and are thrilled that so many in our community as well as visitors enjoyed the spectacular evening along the cobblestone streets of the historic Seaport. With regard to Pier 17, it is New York City agencies that determined the closure of South Street to ensure public safety as they have done in past years when the fireworks have been produced at the Seaport. Prior to July 4, the City issued its list of viewing areas from which the public could safely enjoy the fireworks and no public access points east of South Street were included, similar to previous years. Given this circumstance and our commitment to providing the public with year-round access to Pier 17, we invited our neighbors to view the fireworks aboard the historic Wavertree , rented for the evening from the South Street Seaport Museum prior to any press on the matter to make it available to the community.
We are also pleased to continue to provide space for local nonprofits such as Black Gotham Experience, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and Kubemas tutoring program, and host over 100 ongoing complimentary community events at the Seaport throughout the year, including the recent Waterfront Alliance City of Water Day, as well as concerts, cinema nights, and fitness classes and many other community and cultural events. These efforts, along with our Seaport Cares program to support and financially contribute to various Lower Manhattan organizations and participate in many community celebrations, are a result of our unwavering dedication to the Seaport’s continued success.
The Howard Hughes Corporation
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