Howard Hughes: Here Comes The Tower

Howard Hughes: Here Comes The Tower

I’ve long said that “preservationists” at the NYC Seaport would lose their sensless fight vs  (HHC). Why? I’ve been to the Seaport, what they want to “preserve” isn’t worth preserving and in fact is falling into the sea.  There is a subtle difference between “old world charm” and “run down” and save for Pier 17, most of the Seaport is currently the latter. What these folks really want is as many concessions they can get from shareholders before they ultimately approve the tower. For the record what they are being offered is ~$300M in improvements to the area including low income housing, a new school and a slew of other things. Those will be paid for by the building of the tower and the selling of the units in it.  In short, everybody wins. The Seaport gets some DESPERATELY NEEDED upgrades to the area and shareholders get more people to shop at Pier 17.

As it turns out it looks as though the battle may now be over….

From Curbed NY

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City Says Historic Seaport Buildings in Danger of Collapsing

The fight that preservationists and Seaport residents have undertaken to stop the Howard Hughes Corporation’s plan to build a 494-foot hotel/condo tower has just suffered what appears to be a major setback, as the city has declared that two buildings that were part ofthe old Fulton Fish Market, the New Market Building and the landmarked Tin Building, are in danger of collapsing and must be demolished. Efforts to stop the development have, up until this point, focused on the preservation of those two buildings, but now that the Economic Development Corp. has issued a statement saying that they “are supported by piles that have deteriorated to the point that they cannot hold the structures above it,” they could be razed next month.


There does seem to be some confusion about what is being demolished and when, however, as the EDC has said that it will just take down portions of the rear of both buildings, but also admits that it will reinspect the buildings after that and will probably have to demolish the rest of them, too. “I think there needs to be a lot more transparency and that the city government should be insistent,” Historic Districts Council executive director Simeon Bankoff told the Downtown Post. “I can’t tell you if it’s just Howard Hughes or it’s also the EDC [behind this]. That’s part of the problem.”

Howard Hughes seaport

Now, we should also note that Howard Hughes Corp had not proposed  demolishing those buildings, but moving what could be salvaged, restoring the rest and getting them out of the flood plain.

“Preservationists” should not be dismayed though, it looks increasingly like the Seaport will finally be something worth preserving when $HHC is done.  The sad irony here is that had they simply worked with $HHC for the past two years rather than simply objecting to everything the company tried to do, some of those building might have been saved.  Turns out their own worst enemy was themselves, not the company that trying to improve the area preservationists live in.

Todd Sullivan is a Massachusetts-based value investor and a General Partner in Rand Strategic Partners. He looks for investments he believes are selling for a discount to their intrinsic value given their current situation and future prospects. He holds them until that value is realized or the fundamentals change in a way that no longer support his thesis. His blog features his various ideas and commentary and he updates readers on their progress in a timely fashion. His commentary has been seen in the online versions of the Wall St. Journal, New York Times, CNN Money, Business Week, Crain’s NY, Kiplingers and other publications. He has also appeared on Fox Business News & Fox News and is a contributor. His commentary on Starbucks during 2008 was recently quoted by its Founder Howard Schultz in his recent book “Onward”. In 2011 he was asked to present an investment idea at Bill Ackman’s “Harbor Investment Conference”.
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