The decade-long effort to refurbish the historic Battery Maritime Building remains stalled, as a second developer has been removed from the project, after failing to begin work on the development.
The City’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) — the agency that negotiates strategic partnerships designed to harness private-sector resources to public projects, and thus foster economic growth — originally recruited the Dermot Company, in 2007, to create a 140-room hotel with a rooftop restaurant and bar, an event space, and an indoor market in the landmarked structure. This was, in some ways, an unsurprising choice, because the Dermot Company was also the lead partner on a similar project nearby: the restoration of Pier A. EDC’s deal with Dermot required the redevelopment to be complete by December 2015.
But the real estate meltdown of 2008, followed by design changes necessitated by 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, caused the project to fall years behind schedule and its budget to swell by tens of millions of dollars. The EDC’s deal with the Dermot Company finally collapsed in mid-2015, at which point the agency negotiated a new partnership with Stoneleigh Capital, a real estate firm that operates ski resorts in Colorado and California, as well as luxury hotels and spas around the world. This arrangement called for Stoneleigh to complete the project by December of this year. But the company proved unable to obtain the necessary financing, and never began work. By the close of 2016, Stoneleigh had left the Battery Maritime Building development.
“Stoneleigh dropped out and has no further involvement in the project,” an EDC source explains. “Construction at the project has ceased as the tenant and the tenant’s lender seek ways to restructure the transaction.” Although the current lease still calls for the project to be completed by December, 2017, the same source says, “until the project has been successfully restructured, we do not have an estimated date of completion and the development budget remains a moving target.”
The publicly owned structure, located at 10 South Street, next to the Staten Island Ferry terminal, is a landmarked Beaux Art ferry terminal built in 1909. It served as the gateway to boats taking passengers across the East River for three decades, but after commuters and vehicles gained direct access to Manhattan with the advent of bridges, tunnels, and subways, ferry usage declined and the building fell into disrepair. (Today, its sole use as a berth is for ferries taking passengers to and from nearby Governors Island.) For decades, developers and community activists have proffered competing visions for the building, with the former advocating commercial uses and the latter pushing for civic amenities, such as a school or museum. Among the building’s more notable features is its Great Hall, a majestic 8,500-square foot space, with ceilings 34 feet high, lined with Gustavino tiles. Originally slated to house an indoor market, in the most recent version of the EDC’s plan, this space is envisioned as an event venue and community facility.