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Developers Unveil South Street Seaport Proposal

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Community Board 1 and local residents got a sneak peek Tuesday at a proposal for a new and improved South Street Seaport.

Designers say they envision the new structure on Pier 17 as mixed-use complexes that will cater to businesses as well as cultural events.

Photos released Tuesday include visions for a marina and a 50-story tower.

The proposal by the Howard Hughes Corp. will also include an undisclosed rescue plan for the financially struggling Seaport Museum and the sailing ships at Pier 17.

The plans are dividing people in the community, CBS 2's Emily Smith reported.

"I'm very apprehensive on the look of the building, the height of the building," said Amanda Zink, owner of the Salty Paw pet boutique.

Community activist Robert LaValva said he wants the location, once home to the Fulton Fish Market, to return to being a vibrant marketplace rather than the site of a glass skyscraper and marina.

"Like the Borough Market in London or Pike Place Market in Seattle or the Ferry Plaza Market in San Francisco, they bring millions of people," he said.

Marco Pasanella of Pasanella and Son Vintners said he sees both sides of the debate. Like many others, Pasanella lost most of his business after superstorm Sandy and still hasn't recovered.

"We didn't buy and restore an 1839 building because we wanted to live in an absolutely 'anywhere' neighborhood," he said. "(But) we know that you have to look forward and that sometimes involves making compromises."

The Paris Cafe, founded in 1873, finally reopened three weeks ago after being flooded during Sandy. Owner Peter O'Connell said he supports the proposed modern development

"From my point of view, the Paris will not survive without this development," he said.

Resident Monica Luque  agreed the neighborhood is in need of a revitalization.

"The downtown has been hurt for a long time, and I think (the proposal is) a very good thing," she said.

The first in a series of public meetings about the project was scheduled for Tuesday night at Southbridge Towers, one of the buildings that could be demolished if the plan is approved.

"This has to go for a public approval, and people in the community, people in the city can just say no," LaValva said.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission and the City Council will need to approve the proposal before the project can move forward.

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