In 1961 the area around and including the Fulton Fish Market was zoned C6-4. C6-4 zoning is defined as "Commercial FAR: 10.0 (to 12.0 with bonus); Residential FAR: 10.0" (FAR (floor area ratio) is the relationship between the total amount of usable floor area that a building has, or has been permitted for the building, and the total area of the lot on which the building stands).
In 1977 the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) designated most of the Fulton Fish Market, and an area around the Fulton Fish Market, the South Street Seaport Historic District At a New York City Board of Estimate hearing, the Board of Estimate deleted Block 106 (bounded by Pearl Street, Peck Slip, Water Street, and Dover Street) from the LPC-designated South Street Seaport Historic District. As a result of a movement headed by the Seaport Community Coalition and Community Board No. 1, the Board of Estimate re-included Block 106 into the South Street Seaport Historic District in 1989. The District boundaries are, approximately, Dover Street on the north; Pearl Street and Water Street on the west; below John Street on the south; the East River on the east.
Although this area was now in an historic district, subject to regulation by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, the existing zoning for this area, C6-4, still allowed for high-rise development.
In 1979 Milstein Properties bought 250 Water Street (Block 98), a parking lot that lies within the South Street Seaport Historic District, from Chemical Bank for 5.77 million dollars after Ampal Properties defaulted on a 5 million dollar mortgage.
In 1983 the Rouse Corporation’s Seaport Marketplace opened. Also, starting in 1983, Milstein Properties proposed various developments for the site of 250 Water Street. In 1983, a 23-story office building designed by Ulrich Franzen; the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission rejected the proposal. In 1984 LPC rejected a 43-story on a 5-story base Franzen proposal; in 1986 LPC rejected a two tower (30 and 12 stories) on a 5-story base proposal designed by Jan Hird Pokorny; in 1988 LPC rejected a 15-story office building designed by Emery Roth & Sons.
In 1984 Congressman Ted Weiss requested that the NYC Department of City Planning downzone the South Street Seaport to protect the historic low rise streetscape of the Seaport Historic District. In 1987 City Planning carried out a zoning study of Peck Slip and neighboring blocks. The study established that mean FAR within the Historic District north of Beekman Street was between 4.3 and 4.4. It also demonstrated that, in FAR and street wall height, the existing buildings would show 98.7% conformance to R8A zoning (FAR = 6.02).
In 1988 Milstein Properties proposed a 15-story office building for 250 Water Street designed by Charles Platt and Paul Byard, modified to 12-stories in 1990. The proposal was withdrawn after it twice failed to win LPC approval. In 1991 Milstein Properties proposed a revision of Platt and Byard’s 1990 design into an 11-story commercial building. LPC approved the proposal.
In 1997 Milstein Properties proposed a two-tower (32 and 16 stories) Platt & Byard-designed residential building; this proposal was not acted upon by the LPC.
At a 1997 hearing at the Landmarks Preservation Commission on this most recent Platt & Byard-designed residential building for 250 Water Street, LPC Chairperson Jennifer Raab invited the Seaport Community Coalition to present to the LPC what its vision of appropriate development in the South Street Seaport Historic District would be.
The SCC took up the challenge, and, in partnership with Community Board No. 1, proceeded to assemble a ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) application to present to the New York City Department of City Planning to rezone 10 blocks of the South Street Seaport Historic District from C6-4 to C6-2A, which would prohibit high-rise development.
The SCC’s ULURP proposal was prepared by BFJ Planning, with an accompanying financial analysis by Boston-based McCall & Almy, and was supported by the vast majority of Seaport-area businesses, property owners and residents; all the local elected officials; and virtually every major NYC historic preservation organization.
The SCC’s ULURP proposal, limiting the height of all development in the affected area to 120 feet, was certified in 2002 by the NYC Department of City Planning, and was approved by the New York City Council in 2003.
Articles written on the South Street Seaport Rezoning 2003:
SOUTH STREET SEAPORT HISTORIC DISTRICT REZONING PROPOSAL
BFJ Planning - Environmental Analysis
On behalf of Manhattan Community Board 1 and in close coordination with the New York City Department of City Planning, BFJ prepared the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) Application and City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) Environmental Assessment Statement for the proposed rezoning of a 10-block area in the South Street Seaport Historic District...
Claim of spot zoning and taking at Seaport rebuffed
City Land - New York City Land Use News and Legal Research
Down-zoning in South Street Seaport upheld. Peck Slip Assoc. LLC, the owner of a surface parking lot at 250 Water Street, sued the City seeking to invalidate City Council’s down-zoning of the South Street Seaport area on a claim that the rezoning made 250 Water Street impossible to develop...
Battle Nears Over Rezoning Near Seaport
By Charles V. Bagli JAN. 22, 2003
New York Times
A long-running battle over a New York real estate family's desire to build a 43-story residential tower near the South Street Seaport despite 20 years of opposition by neighborhood residents and elected officials is about to pose a sharp challenge for the Bloomberg administration...
Proposed South Street Seaport development under fire.
The Free Library by Farlex
A new housing development proposed for the South Street Seaport by Milstein Properties is encountering major neighborhood opposition. Located under the Brooklyn Bridge off the East River, the Seaport is Manhattan's oldest neighborhood, and was recently immortalized in Martin Scorsese's new film Gangs of New York...