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Howard Hughes Corp.’s Seaport District is still a work in progress.

This story first appeared in the May 22, 2017 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The developer since 2010 has been working to realize its vision of the Seaport District as a culinary, retail and cultural hub. There hasn’t been much news on the retail leasing front aside from the fact that Carla Sozzani’s 10 Corso Como experimental concept store will bow. Besides the previously announced Scotch & Soda, leases have been signed by Dita eyewear, Fellow Barber, McNally Jackson and By Chloé.

Howard Hughes in January signed a lease allowing the Tin building food hall restoration to proceed.

The Seaport District is focusing on summer programming. “We want to inspire New Yorkers to come back to the Seaport District,” said David Weinreb, chief executive officer of Howard Hughes.

The district’s summer 2017 Seaport Food Lab, presented by Chase Sapphire, kicks off on June 19. “It’s great culinary experiments in two-week residences,” Weinreb said. The chef lineup includes Paul Kahan, Erling Wu-Bower and Cosmo Goss, who’ll preview their upcoming Chicago concept, Pacific Standard Time; Hugh Acheson, a James Beard Foundation award winner and cookbook author; Alon Shaya, who cooks modern Israeli cuisine; Jessica Koslow, owner of L.A. restaurant Sqirl, and Dale Talde, a self-described fusion king.

A two-level storefront along the cobblestones, 203 Front Street, was transformed into an open dining room with an upstairs kitchen with a private chef’s table. Each chef will collaborate with Sixpoint Brewery to create beer for their dinner, while Jim Beam and Hornitos will feature in specialty cocktails inspired by the chefs’ menus.

The Seaport Food Lab is consistent with Howard Hughes’ support of young designers. The Seaport District has been incubators of unique design.

As with any big project — this one’s pegged at $731 million — there have been setbacks and triumphs along the way. For example, the developer planned to build a 494-foot-tall condominium tower as part of the project, but it was opposed by local officials, residents, civic groups and preservationists who said the tower would obscure views of the Brooklyn Bridge and would be out of place with the low-slung buildings of the district. The tower was dropped.

On the other hand, 10 Corso Como was a coup. As the only 10 Corso Como in the U.S., it will set a high standard for fashion and design at the project. The Seaport in October welcomed Manhattan’s first iPic Theater.

The Seaport District encompasses seven buildings on several city blocks totaling more than 400,000 square feet. There is also a Tin building that’s being restored and will house a 50,000-square-foot food hall “curated by Jean-Georges Vongerichten,” Weinreb said. “It will have everything, from sushi to dim sum to Italian to vegan, as well as great fresh steak and chicken.”

Vongerichten will also open a fish restaurant, but “it’s not going to be a white tablecloth restaurant,” Weinreb said. “It will celebrate the spirit of the pier and there will be several oyster bars inside the restaurant.”

David Chang, whose Momofuku franchise will open two restaurants at Hudson Yards, will also unveil an eatery at the Seaport District. “We’re probably thinking about doing two more restaurants and several smaller food and beverage concepts,” Weinreb said. “As you see with all the experiences popping up all over the city, that with the number of people who live here, and the number of people coming here on a tourist basis, food is critical. We happen to think that great food and beverage is so important to mix with retail.”

Mr. Cannon, a contemporary twist on a bespoke speakeasy and louche cocktail lounge, is another summer concept. “It will lure people to its hidden, secret location inside the Seaport District’s cobblestone streets,” Weinreb said. “Mr. Cannon will be another culinary highlight of the summer. We’re trying to have a culinary approach to mixology. Delicious drinks will be created with an arsenal of rare ingredients and  garnishes.”

Mr. Cannon is named for John Cannon, who built a wharf at the seaport in the 17 century. There’s also a street named in his honor, Cannon Walk, off Fulton Street. Asked about the odds of Mr. Cannon achieving permanent status at the Seaport District, Weinreb said, “We’re always looking for permanent installations. We’ll see if it’s well received.”

A small part of Fulton Street will be turned into the Garden Bar, featuring a pergola housing a 78-foot outdoor bar surrounded by lush greenery. Adjacent to the Garden Bar, the Front Row Food Market on Front Street between Fulton and Beekman Streets will offer the best of the city’s food trucks, opening May 24.

Clinton Hall Seaport, at 19 Fulton Street, a modern take on the Gastropub, will have a 20/20 program of 20 Supercraft draft beers on rotation and 20 unique burgers and is opening May 17.

“The increasing challenges we’re seeing in traditional retailing are supporting the idea we had in the beginning of creating a port of discovery,” Weinreb said. “The Seaport is the original port. We want to celebrate the history of the birthplace of creativity.”

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