Pier 17 stores close as Seaport gears up for redevelopment
One of South Street Seaport's most famous shopping areas had its swan song Monday.
After 30 years in operation, Pier 17 -- and all of its shops shut down to make way for a larger mall for the neighborhood, that's still recovering from Superstorm Sandy.
Some small business owners who were clearing out their items said they were bittersweet about the change because even though the new center won't be complete until 2015 at the earliest, they all agreed that it needs a boost to attract customers and visitors.
"I feel bad, but this [place] needs a future," said Ali Torun, 31, who owns the Fashion Bag and Pacific Grill stores in the pier.
In March, the city approved the Howard Hughes Corporation, a Texas-based developer -- to make over the site after it worked with Community Board 1 and residents over the specifics for the $200 million project.
The building was in dire need of repair especially after the Oct. 29 storm which flooded the streets and damaged infrastructure on the first floor. Community Board 1 chair Catherine Hughes said foot traffic is still low 11 months later.
Demolition of the pier, which opened in 1983, is set for Oct. 1. When construction is finished in two years, there will be a three-story building with rooftop space for public purposes and a front porch overlooking the water
The corporation pushed back construction from the spring to fall to give store owners one more summer season of business, a request that CB 1 chair Catherine McVay Hughes said was beneficial after the Sandy.
"The local businesses were able to recoup some of their expenses and lost business due to Sandy this past summer, which is the peak season," she said.
A spokesman for the Howard Hughes corporation couldn't say if the current stores will be back in the new space when it re-opens but some shops have already found new locations throughout the city.
But other business owners and workers said they are still looking and are optimistic that they will return to the revitalized Pier 17.
"It's going to get better," said Vanesa Brun, 21, who has been working at the Hanami jewelry stand outside Pier 17 for four years. "This location is good because there are a lot of tourists. Maybe with the new place it will bring regular New Yorkers too."