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Editorial: Smart plan will refloat South Street Seaport

Tourists and shoppers visit Pier 17 at the

Tourists and shoppers visit Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport. (Charles Eckert) Credit: Tourists and shoppers visit Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport. (Charles Eckert)

Lower Manhattan in its 400-year history has survived booms and busts, hellish fires and ghastly terrorist attacks — and today it’s struggling to recover from the devastating tidal surges and howling winds of superstorm Sandy.

But there’s good news to report on its latest travails.

The City Council and Howard Hughes Corp. reached an agreement this week on revitalization plans for Pier 17 — the massive East River shopping and dining complex at the South Street Seaport.

Hughes will do a major redevelopment of its outdated 1985 emporium, which was scheduled for an overhaul even before the storm struck.

In return for city approval of its plans, the company will also develop a large waterfront market in the landmarked 1907 Tin Building, once part of the old Fulton Fish Market.

The idea is to broaden the Seaport’s appeal, creating a destination that’s popular not only with the 11.5 million tourists who stream into the neighborhood each year, but also with the area’s 60,000 residents and 310,000 workers.

The market is meant to be a place where locals can shop for fresh, regionally produced food.

And a rebuilt Pier 17 should provide a strong secondary destination for the new surge of tourists expected to visit the area when the long-delayed 9/11 museum ultimately opens on the World Trade Center site.

Why should ordinary New Yorkers care about this?

The Hughes plan will help the city bulk up its tax base with new revenues from diners and shoppers, which will make life a little easier for all New Yorkers.

And it will help keep downtown — the nation’s fourth-largest central business district — a strong draw for residents and workers.

That helps the tax base as well.

City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who represents the district, deserves credit for helping broker the deal.

The city that was knocked to its knees by 9/11 and then punched hard by Sandy has always promised to come back stronger than ever. And it will.  

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