250 Water Street’s Development to Proceed After Appellate Court Ruling

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The hobbled 25-story residential development at 250 Water Street is finally out of the weeds as a previous judicial ruling was overturned Tuesday.

The appellate division of the New York State Supreme Court struck down Judge Arthur Engoron’s previous determination that the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) was wrong to greenlight the Howard Hughes Corporation project to build 399 housing units in the South Street Seaport historic district.

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Engoron’s ruling in January invalidated a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) previously issued by the LPC when the developers took the project plans to the city agency for approval. The lawsuit against the LPC — spearheaded by the Historic Districts Council (HDC) — argued that the 325-foot tall building went against the 1977 landmark district designation restricting any new buildings exceeding the scale and height of the existing structures.

“We are gratified by the court’s decision, which confirms what we have maintained all along: The Landmarks Preservation Commission’s approval of our project was proper and made in full compliance with the landmarks law,” Howard Hughes co-president Zach Winick said in a statement.

The parcel at 250 Water Street has been a parking lot since 1977.

The appellate court stated that the LPC’s approval was based on more than just a building’s height and deemed the argument that an alleged quid pro quo discussion between the LPC and the Howard Hughes Corporation had taken place to be without proof — the quid pro quo being the developer’s plans to create a museum dedicated to the history of the seaport.

HDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mark Hallum can be reached at mhallum@commercialobserver.com.