It’s been a long time since South Street Seaport was intended for New Yorkers.
This is not to say that natives didn’t show up when Aunt Millie was in town and in need of diversion. And unlike hellish Times Square, the Seaport at least looked like old New York and had unquestionably good views. But Hurricane Sandy flooded the streets — putting many local places out of business and doing collateral damage to the area’s reputation and residential appeal.
“I had visited South Street Seaport many times in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but I never dreamed I’d be living there,” says Steven Levenson, a contractor who had been living in Virginia until moving to the Seaport in 2012.
But Levenson just bought a two-bedroom, two-bath condo in the neighborhood. Something interesting is happening. South Street Seaport — a.k.a., Peck Slip — is in the beginning stages of a huge transformation. “There’s not much actively there,” says Erin Wicomb, co-founder of the Mavrix Group, one of the developers dipping a toe in the waters of the Seaport. “But there will be.”
Residential real estate is being planned, retail is taking root, schools are opening and even a movie theater is on the way. Here are five reasons we think that Peck Slip will be a real neighborhood in the next two years:
Brand new condos
Some of that Seaport real estate has already arrived. Like the Walton, a new 26-unit boutique condo at 264 Water St. that opened for sales just after Thanksgiving. “It’s a historic cast-iron building,” says Jacqueline Urgo of the Marketing Directors, which is selling the building. “It’s loft-like, with exposed brick original columns. It has character and flexible spaces.”
The lofts at The Walton start at $875,000 for an 1,114 square foot unit.Photo: NY Post/Brian Zak The smallest open loft starts at 1,114 square feet and apartments go up to 1,552 square feet. Units range from $875,000 to $1.995 million. Before going condo the Walton was a rental, and four of its previous renters liked the building so much that they decided to purchase. (One of whom was Levenson.) And it withstood the biggest test of the area when it did battle with Sandy back in late October 2012. “By Dec. 1 our building was fully operational and all the occupants were back,” says Levenson.
Just how rock ’n’ roll is this neighborhood? So rock ’n’ roll that when Scott Aaron, principal at Socius Development Group, and his partners decided to develop a 23-story 80/20 rental at 56 Fulton he told his interior designer (Andres Escobar) to think of “a ’70s, ’80s downtown rock scene: Basquiat, Blondie, CBGB — that kind of downtown scene . . . make it a look back to New York 20, 30 years ago.”
The aesthetic is still “old New York” on Peck Slip even as a new school is set to open in the fall of 2015 across the street.Photo: NY Post/Brian Zak For a city in the throes of “American Hustle” fever, this is an intriguing concept. The 120 unit building will be a mixture of studios, one- and two-bedrooms and include a “funky” residents’ club and 6,000 square feet of retail. “They’ll be good sized apartments,” Aaron says.
Ground will be broken on the site (now an eight-story outdoor parking garage) this summer — the building should be finished in early 2016.
“We’re deliberately building [Pier 17] for lower Manhattan residents and people who live in New York City.” Thus spoke Chris Curry, senior executive vice president of development for the Howard Hughes Corp. that has a massive new commercial undertaking for Pier 17 in the works. This is a very welcome development to New Yorkers who wrote the Seaport off as a big shopping mall and crummy food court.
Photo: NY Post/Brian Zak
The first place to sign up for the new Pier 17 was iPic Theaters (a luxury cinema chain, which serves full meals and beverages); Scott J. Skorobohaty, Principal of The Vortex Group, LLC brokered the deal for iPic. “The iPic theater will truly distinguish this area, and should help it to become even more of a destination,” says Douglas Elliman’s Faith Hope Consolo of the deal.
Also with the coming influx of shops and restaurants will be a 60 story tower which will be combination of hotel rooms and residential space. Curry won’t say who else his company has been meeting with on the retail side, but if one asks whether this means big box stores or local Brooklyn-like artisans, Curry says: “We’re looking for unique offerings — we want to give people a reason to come back again and again.”
What about the city’s great restaurateurs? Has he met with any of them? “All of them — well, most of them.”
Some people talk about “drumming education” into the young. Well, we imagine that the Blue School — founded by members of the percussion-cum-theater troupe, Blue Man Group — can get the drumming part down pretty good. Blue School, at 241 Water St., is a private independent school (going from preschool through fifth grade) that has been around since 2006 and is so popular that there is one opening for every eight applicants.
Thankfully, Peck Slip should be getting a little extra help in this department from PS 343 — a 712-student school (grades K to 5) in the neighborhood’s old post office. Construction started last year and it should be ready for students in the fall of 2015.
On the drawing board
OK, this may be straying slightly from the Seaport, but we would be remiss not to mention the Mavrix Group’s planned 51-story, 96-unit, 114,000-square-foot condo planned on Fulton Street, between Gold and William only three blocks from the Seaport’s edge.
This 120-unit 80/20 rental will have a 70s/80s motif, not to mention 6,000 square feet of retail space.Photo: Jimi Hendrix photograph: Gered Mankowitz / Morrison Hotel Gallery
According to Wicomb, the developers are still considering adding “other parcels to make the project bigger.” (They’re looking at a total of seven parcels of land.) There won’t be a great deal of retail space, but there will probably be some.
“What we want to bring to market will be ultra high-end for an affordable price,” says Wicomb. When the project is finished in 2016, it will hope to command $2,000 per square foot. And this isn’t Mavrix’s only building in the area. “We also have a project in the Seaport,” says Wicomb of a $10.5 million boutique condo closer to the water. As if we needed anything else to get excited about!