This article can be found in the current issue of the Journal of Urban Affairs regarding Examining Public Private Partnerships and the Production of Urban Space.
The South Street Seaport, a historic district located at the southern tip of Manhattan, has been the subject of a massive redevelopment scheme. While local actors have opposed the new vision of the developer, the latter, in partnership with the New York Economic Development Corporation, has imposed its own narrative for the district’s development so far. This paper looks at the development of a historic district being managed by private parties. Unfolding past events, it critically investigates the district’s space production and examines how the different actors have framed the values and narratives over the place. It shows how partnerships have become unbalanced over the years and how it finally led to reactions and the rearrangement of the partnership. The paper aims at contributing to the current debate on the public–private partnership by discussing their implications and bringing in the example of an alternative setting for more open collaboration and negotiation between developers and local actors.