Seaport Museum Repairs Estimated to Cost Nearly $22 Million

The flooded first floor and escalator of the museum. The first floor housed the gift shop. Photo courtesy of the South Street Seaport Museum

The South Street Seaport Museum, severely damaged from five feet of flooding, is shooting to reopen on Dec. 10.

"That's the goal but it's not set in stone yet," said a source close to the museum, who noted that the museum got a green light to open to the public after passing a recent inspection.

Though operating with no elevator or escalator service and with temporary power and heat, the museum plans to open with a new show of New York street photography, pictures selected from thousands of submissions from some some 600 photographers. Several other, previous exhibits that were on display before the storm will also be shown. According to museum officials, none of the exhibitions were touched by the flooding. The top, fifth floor will be closed to the public.

A memo to museum director Susan Henshaw Jones from general manager Jerry Gallagher and project manager Patricia Zedalis, obtained by the Trib, estimates it will cost almost $22 million to replace and repair equipment and to relocate new mechanical systems to a flood-safe level.  The museum was already struggling to stay afloat when the Museum of the City of New York took it over in October 2011.

The cost of replacing the elevators and escalators alone is estimated at nearly $5 million. Replacing and relocating the heating system and moving from steam to a gas boiler will cost another $5 million.

"It will take a long time to make the necessary repairs to get back to normal," the memo states.  "We have registered with FEMA and have taken our insurance adjusters through the properties. We are working with our engineers to come up with the best plans for not only replacing damaged systems equipment but to relocate all of this equipment so they will not be vulnerable to future flooding."

In a letter to the editor, received Wednesday by the Trib, Jones thanked the many volunteers who helped save the historic holdings of the museum's print shop, Bowne & Co. The reopening of the museum, she said in the letter,  "will be a moment that celebrates the value of hard work that built—and continues to rebuild—our great neighborhood."