DOTTY 2024 Awardee Andrew Schwartz: The Backstage Visionary of Pier 17 Summer Concerts at the South Street Seaport

How Andrew Schwartz reimagined the South Street Seaport.

| 13 Mar 2024 | 01:50

Getting New Yorkers to step into destinations blacklisted as tourist traps is a big feat and Andrew Schwartz, co-president of the New York Region Howard Hughes Corporation, achieved it.

Schwartz’s rise to co-president in 2023 is a story of ambition and determination.

”Over the nine years that I’ve been here, my job has grown and changed dramatically, taking on new and different challenges every year and bringing lots of different functions under one roof, from marketing and entertainment to strategic partnerships and community programming,” he said.

After graduating from the University of Connecticut with a communications degree, Schwartz began a career in the sports industry, starting with a role at the NHL. He was so passionate about sports that he even worked as a mascot for two years. From there, he transitioned to various roles, including positions with the Commissioner of Major League Baseball and the then-New Jersey Nets NBA team.

One day, Schwartz received a call from the Howard Hughes Corporation regarding a project in lower Manhattan that required someone to breathe life into their partnerships. Intrigued, he joined the company in 2015 and started working on transforming the South Street Seaport.

“It was known as a destination for tourists to come and to explore the historic part of New York City. You have the South Street Seaport Museum, the tall ships, the cobblestone streets, the old Pier 17 was an interior-facing mall where you bought I Love New York t-shirts and Dead Sea bath salts. And then you went to the highest grossing pizzeria, Uno, on earth. And that was the experience,” Schwartz said.

“Our hope and vision was to reshape the historic South Street Seaport into a place where New Yorkers would want to come, they’d want to discover a dynamic culinary experience, unique entertainment experiences and have a sense of art and relevant culture presented to them through the outdoor spaces, through art, through activations,” he said.

The project achieved remarkable success, offering a variety of unique experiences such as lawn games, a pop-up beach, outdoor movies, and more. The space prides itself on its dining options, including the 2022 Michelin Award contender Carne Mare, and the Tin Building, a 54,000-square-foot culinary experience with restaurants, bars and a fresh food marketplace built on the historic Fulton Fish Market site.

“We got culinary locked and loaded. New Yorkers are coming down again, they’re experiencing it through their bellies which we all know, New Yorkers love to have experiences through their stomach and their palate drives many of the decisions they make,” Schwartz said.

The star of the show is the Summer Concert Series. “We’ve done about 200 shows over the five years that we’ve been here. We’ve had all sorts of A-list artists perform at the rooftop at Pier 17,” said Schwartz.

Though no longer in the sports industry, Schwartz brings enthusiasm and discipline to his work in real estate, emphasizing teamwork as a key focus. “It’s a very passionate project for everyone who works here. And like sports to some extent, we can look out our window...look onto the playing field and point to the things that you’ve done and you’ve accomplished, especially when the streets are packed with people who are having a cocktail and enjoying a concert,” he said.