The Real Deal New York

Storm protection: Empire Stores readies 1,100-foot wall in case of flooding

Midtown Equities plans for a (very) rainy day
March 03, 2017 08:40AM

Midtown’s Joseph Cayre and Empire Stores

Midtown’s Joseph Cayre and Empire Stores

If and when another Superstorm Sandy batters the New York City area, Empire Stores on the Brooklyn waterfront will be ready.

Midtown Equities has readied a “deployable flood barrier,” comprised of four- and seven-foot panels, that will create a 1,100-foot wall around the property overlooking Brooklyn Bridge Park. The wood and metal wall can be built in just four or five hours, reported the New York Times, which is examining how New York buildings are dealing with rising sea levels and storms.

Empire Stores, comprised of seven buildings completed around 1885, is controlled by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, which leases the property to Midtown Equities. Midtown Equities has been renovating and expanding Empire Stores, and has created 380,000 square feet of commercial space. Home furnishings store West Elm has its headquarters there.

The $1 million “deployable flood barrier” is made by AquaFence, a Norwegian company. Constructed of laminated plywood, stainless steel and aluminum, the hinged walls form an L shape when erected. Vinyl runs between panels to keep water out. Horizontal footings, which face the floodwaters, keep the walls from toppling.

Other AquaFence projects in New York

“We are definitely protecting it against the next Sandy or a greater storm,” Adam Goldberg, AcquaFence USA’s director for business development told the Times. “If the spillover is brief, there are pumps inside the protection barrier that would account for that.”

The developers of Empire Stores are taking other precautions, too, including a 600-kilowatt, gas-powered generator. The building’s transformer vaults are on the seventh floor, the stock room is on the seventh, and West Elm’s computers are backed up in California. [NYT] E.B. Solomont