The Real Deal New York

Developers taking hurricane precautions

September 30, 2011 01:07PM

Even though Hurricane Irene mostly passed over New York without too much damage, there is still lingering concern about what the impact of a larger storm could be on the larger number of developments rising on the New York waterfront, the New York Times reported, as for many the hurricane was the first time many realized they lived in evacuation zone A.

To limit damage from storm surges and flooding, the city’s comprehensive waterfront development plan, “Vision 2020,” recommends the installation of retractable water-tight gates at the entryways of buildings; investing in the maintenance of seawalls and bulkheads; creating “soft edges” along the shoreline that can accommodate surging tides; and restoring or creating wetlands and barrier islands. According to “Vision 2020,” sea levels by 2050 could be 12 to 29 inches higher than they are today. By 2080, they could be some 55 inches higher.

Gary Malin, the president of the Citi Habitats, described the impact of what ended up becoming Tropical Storm Irene as “a nonevent.” Even though some residents were particularly cautious during the storm “we have not seen any renters shy away from that neighborhood,” he added, referring to Battery Park City.

Pamela Liebman, the president of the Corcoran Group, said, “It would take more than a few inches of water to keep New Yorkers from buying a property they love.”

Jon McMillan, director of planning for TF Cornerstone, said that at the Queens West development by the 59th Street Bridge, four of the seven buildings have been completed. The buildings were designed to take into account the threat of storms, floods, rising sea levels and pressure that the river generates on the ground beneath the structures, he said. Even though it added several million dollars to the cost of each building, was not required by zoning regulations and reduced valuable square footage, the developer also decided to eliminate basements, which is usually where things like boilers and electrical equipment are kept.

“We moved all the vital equipment to the first floor,” he said. The floors at this level are double slabs of concrete with a watertight seal in between them. There are floodgates that can be employed in the event of a storm. McMillan said that developers had learned a lot of lessons from the construction of Battery Park City, which is only seven feet above sea.” [NYT]

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