Last month, the South Street Seaport Museum was part of a presentation at a virtual hearing of NYC Community Board 1, the first of several public hearings about proposed developments in the seaport district that may well determine the fate of our beloved institution. It was a long night, but our presence sent a clear message: our community is willing to fight for the Seaport Museum. We’re honored to have you in our corner.
But the work is just getting started. There are two virtual meetings that are open for public remarks and testimony scheduled in the next month:
- Community Board 1 Full Board meeting at 6pm ET on December 22, 2020
- Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing, exact time TBD during the day on January 5, 2021
Will you stand in support of the Seaport Museum in one or both of these public forums? Please RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The plan currently proposed for a building on 250 Water Street would achieve several key goals nearly immediately. It would create the reliable revenue the Museum needs to be sustainable, as well as survive the current crisis. It would allow the Museum to truly reopen for the first time since Sandy. And it would create a clear path, including a full design and the beginnings of a capital program, toward a cutting-edge resilient Museum building on the John Street lot. This would connect the Museum visually and logically to Pier 16 and provide the community of New Yorkers and New York lovers with proper museum space in which to interact with the Museum's 55,000 historic records and over 28,000 works of art and historical objects, the crown jewels of maritime New York. Before the pandemic, this proposal promised powerful, positive change for the Seaport Museum and the South Street Seaport Historic District. Now, it presents a lifeline, without which the Museum likely will not survive.
The Museum interprets and gives voice to the district, and right from the beginning it was intended that the district in turn would provide financial support to the Museum. As longtime South Street Seaport Museum volunteer and co-founder of Save Our Seaport Anne Beaumont says in her recent opEd in amNY: the Seaport Museum is the Seaport District. Better a new development, she argues, than live without the beating heart of what makes this special historic district unique, not just here in New York, but worldwide.
The Seaport Museum must secure reliable recurring revenue—not sometime in the future but now, right now—to survive this moment. And we have a true lifeline available to us in the proposed development plans for 250 Water Street, and we are hard at work with the City and our elected officials to create a framework that ensures that the developer delivers on its obligation to contribute $50 million to the Museum promptly upon final project approvals.
the air rights transfer
mechanism proposed to deliver benefits to the community was developed here in the Seaport, for the benefit of the Seaport.
Indeed, as Columbia professor Douglas Woodward details in his recent op-ed
, the first air rights transfer in the City of New York was conducted in 1972 for precisely this purpose. The City’s subsequent transfers of development rights, those around the High Line, Grand Central and the Theater Subdistrict, are all built on the foundations laid here at the Seaport.
The current proposal uses an existing framework to deliver cultural and community improvements, just as envisioned in the Museum's and the District's founding principles. Today, this proposal creates the opportunity to Save the South Street Seaport Museum for good.
We’re asking you now: will you speak up for the South Street Seaport Museum and testify in support of saving this historic institution?
You can RSVP for one or both meetings to email@example.com. We’re here to help you tell your story and are happy to connect with you one-on-one if you have any questions about what to expect. And if you can’t join at the time of the meetings, there are opportunities to submit your testimony in writing.
Thank you again, and we look forward to your continued support as we work together to save the Seaport Museum.