Most of the Front Street buildings had a geothermal heating and cooling system that was destroyed in the flood, said Jordan Barowitz, a spokesman for the developer, The Durst Organization, Inc. The repairs, which include moving the mechanical systems to the roof, are expected to drag on for months.
‘‘We hope that they will come back,’’ Barowitz said of the shuttered businesses. ‘‘It’s very challenging.’’
The future of the South Street Seaport is equally uncertain. Howard Hughes Corp, which controls the former 19th-century counting houses that are home to the retail chains, said it does not yet know which — if any — of the major retailers will come back. The hope is to have Fulton Street in working order again before Memorial Day, when the summer season kicks off and the seaport will desperately need an influx of visitors.
But in a case of unfortunate timing, Pier 17, the shopping mall housed inside a rustic wooden building on the pier, is slated to close for a long-planned renovation in June that will transform it into a modern glass-walled structure with a rooftop plaza. The impending renovation has only added to the misery of shop owners who lost so much revenue since the storm and haven’t recouped their losses.
Milad Doos, an immigrant from Egypt, is planning to close his jewelry and collectibles store for good.
‘‘Like you see, there’s nobody,’’ said Doos, who earned just $5 on a recent afternoon. ‘‘After the storm, this whole place has become dead place.’’
At the Bridge Cafe, most of the wood foundation will be gutted, sparing only two pillars and a wall behind the bar that are part of the original building. Repairs will cost around $400,000.
Weprin, who has no flood insurance, launched a fundraising page online to appeal for financial help from the restaurant’s many loyal patrons. To his astonishment, many of them didn’t even realize the place was closed.
That’s because nobody has frequented the neighborhood for weeks.
‘‘During the day, you have tourists who are coming to look at the carnage,’’ Weprin said. ‘‘That’s about it. Before Sandy, it was a neighborhood.’’
Associated Press Writer Tom Hays contributed to this report.