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Betul Ekmekci

Lic. Assoc. R.E. Broker
Office:(212) 317-7884
Mobile:(646) 623-0174

Mentioned in this Article:
Wall Street Journal

Seaport District Moves To Regain Footing

$2 Million

130 Beekman Street PH5B

This is a three-bedroom, three-bathroom duplex condominium that is a conversion of a prewar building.

Price Comparison: Priced at $1,141 a square foot compared with $998 a foot for other three-bedrooms in the neighborhood

Listing History: on the market for two weeks

Property Plus: The unit has exposures on three sides.

Property Minus: The building's lobby is undergoing renovation

Listing Agent: Betul Ekmekci of Halstead Property

Open House: Sunday, Noon-2PM

With its cobblestone streets and 19th-century building stock, the past is always present in the South Street Seaport area.

Now, as the area's businesses and residents continue to rebuild after the damage from superstorm Sandy, the future also looms large, with redevelopment work on one of the seaport's main tourist draws, Pier 17, set to begin in the fall.

The city created the South Street Seaport Historic District in 1977. According to the designation report, it developed "from a small cluster of wharves in the 18th century to an important part of the leading port in the nation in the mid-19th century."

Much of the building stock dates from the first half of the 19th century and represents a number of different styles of mercantile architecture, including Georgian, Federal and Greek Revival.

Brokers say residents have increasingly been drawn to the area in the past few years because of the appeal of the historic buildings.

"It has the older, raw loft space you find in TriBeCa but it's not as expensive, and it certainly has its own identity separate from the Financial District," said Susie Park, a broker who lives near the area.

New neighborhood amenities have also added homeyness to what was once an overwhelmingly commercial zone: Last year the first supermarket in the area—a Key Food—opened on Fulton Street.

Ms. Park said that while business has picked up in recent months, would-be buyers become more apprehensive following Sandy.

The storm flooded many seaport buildings, and a number of ground-floor restaurants and stores have yet to get back into business.

Jacqueline Goewey of Made Fresh Daily, whose cafe on Front Street between Beekman Street and Peck Slip is one of a handful of businesses on the block to reopen, said that dealing with Sandy damage has spurred many owners in the area to form a merchants association called the Old Seaport Alliance.

"It was petrifying to us that this could go away," Ms. Goewey said.

Smorgas Bar, a collection of food and beverage vendors on Front Street.

She said the association is planning an event called "Seven Saturdays" starting in September in which some streets will be closed to cars in order to encourage pedestrian traffic to visit restaurants and shops.

Meanwhile, the company that controls the section of the district that is home to a number of national retailers, Texas-based Howard Hughes Corp., HHC +0.74% intends to begin work on the redevelopment of Pier 17 in the fall. The pier was redeveloped as a mall in the 1980s.

Howard Hughes' latest plans, which were approved by the city earlier this year, will involve constructing a glassy building with a green roof; it will have 370,000 square feet of retail space in addition to increasing public space at the pier, allowing room for events such as concerts.

The company sees the redevelopment as an opportunity to attract residents as well as tourists.

"We won't feel we've accomplished our goal unless we bring New Yorkers back to the seaport, and create a place where the New Yorker and tourist can coexist," said David Weinreb, the chief executive officer of Howard Hughes Corp.

Some neighborhood preservationists have been wary of the redevelopment plans.

"If one is willing to concede that Pier 17 wants improvement, then putting a better shopping mall there might not be the way to go," said David Sheldon, a member of the steering committee of Save Our Seaport, an organization seeking to preserve historic elements in the area.

Mr. Weinreb said Howard Hughes Corp. is committed to preserving the seaport's historic character while modernizing the pier. "We want to enhance the seaport, not diminish it," he said in response to criticism about the redevelopment.

Save Our Seaport is also calling for a landmark designation for a building immediately north of the pier, the New Market Building used by the Fulton Fish Market from 1939 until 2005, when the fish market's operations were moved to the Bronx. The group says the building, which isn't part of the Pier 17 project, is representative of Depression-era municipal facilities.

A spokeswoman for the Landmarks Preservation Commission said the city is reviewing whether the building is eligible for consideration as a landmark.

A couple blocks away, at 80 South St., the owner of a high-profile development site that in the mid-2000s was slated to have a skyscraper designed by architect Santiago Calatrava has new plans to build a tower with a hotel and condo.

"It's a thriving, growing new neighborhood, and we would have nearest hotel," said Anthony Colletti, the chief operating officer of Queens-based Cord Meyer, which owns the property.

Parks: An Imagination Playground featuring movable play equipment opened in 2010 at John and South streets.

Schools: The seaport is part of District 2. Elementary school P.S. 234, with an enrollment of more than 800, received a C grade from the city for the 2011-12 school year. The Professional Performing Arts High School, which serves grades 6-12, has around 500 students and received a B grade from the city.

Dining: Restaurants include Acqua at Peck Slip, offering Italian cuisine, and MarkJoseph Steakhouse on Water Street.

Shopping: Aside from the many chain stores in the seaport area, specialty retailers include Bowne & Co. Stationers on Water Street, which specializes in 19th-century printing techniques, and cigar store Cigar Landing on Peck Slip.

Entertainment: The Seaport Music Festival features an eclectic array of free shows on Pier 17 on Fridays during the summer.

Friday, August 16, 2013