“We have to learn how to live with water”: Pros talk development in waterfront cities

AECOM & the Asia Society held a conference on Thursday

TRD New York /
Sep.September 14, 2017 04:50 PM

Nothing thrusts the future of waterfront cities into question quite like a pair of devastating hurricanes.

Hurricane Harvey, where wetlands were paved over to make way for new development, highlighted Houston’s libertarian-tinged zoning deficiencies. Meanwhile, Irma recapitulated the dangers of developing on the water’s edge.

“We have to control how we develop these cities,” Judith Rodin, former president of the Rockefeller Foundation, said during an event on Thursday. “We have to learn how to live with water.”

AECOM and the Asia Society on Thursday held a conference — “Imagine New York: The Future of the Working Waterfront” — at the Asia Society’s Upper East Side headquarters. While the potential perils of building close to the shore was briefly mentioned during the first half of the event, much of the discussion instead focused on the development of the city’s 520 miles of shoreline.

Joanne Witty, vice chair of Brooklyn Bridge Park, reflected on the various disputes that have accompanied the transformation of a once active port into an 85-acre park. Most recently, the Brooklyn Heights Association has waged a legal battle over two rental towers planned for Pier 6, which would include 100 affordable housing units. Witty said the ongoing debate about the future of the park is a sort of microcosm for the conflicts that often arise when developing waterfronts throughout the country: It’s a balance between economic development, housing needs and a slew of other factors.

“As the waterfront becomes available, as the port has receded, and the land becomes available, how do you decide to use it?” she said. “It’s been one controversy after another.”

While residents are opposing affordable housing at Brooklyn Bridge Park, some living near the Brooklyn Navy Yard were disappointed that it remained mostly commercial, the panel’s moderator, Philana Patterson, Money Editor at USA Today, noted. Andrew Kimball, formerly president and CEO of the navy yard and current CEO of Industry City, noted that it was important for the area to maintain its commercial identity.

“It was a feeling that we needed to keep the navy yard as sacrosanct as a commercial center,” Kimball said. He later noted, “You can have all the affordable housing in the world, but if you don’t have good paying jobs, what kind of city do you have?”


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
Nightingale’s Eli Schwartz and 111 Wall Street (Credit: Google Maps)

Nightingale, Wafra seek $860M to redevelop 111 Wall Street

Nightingale, Wafra seek $860M to redevelop 111 Wall Street
Clockwise from left: 950 University Avenue in the Bronx, 27-55 Jackson Avenue in Queens, 149 Pioneer Street in Red Hook and 416 Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg (Google Maps)

EB-5 investor snags Hunters Point resi development: Mid-market sales report

EB-5 investor snags Hunters Point resi development: Mid-market sales report
Port Authority Bus Terminal and AECOM CEO Troy Rudd (Roger Rowlett via Wikipedia; AECOM)

“Worst place on earth” may be buried underground

“Worst place on earth” may be buried underground
From left: David Singelyn of Homes 4 Rent, Jacque Petroulakis of NextMetro, and Adam Adler of Global City (Photos via Nexmetro, Global City, Singelyn via Cal Poly Pomona)

Developers bet big on build-for-rent in these uncertain times

Developers bet big on build-for-rent in these uncertain times
New York City Council member Brad Lander (Getty)

Brad Lander calls for city to use land banks

Brad Lander calls for city to use land banks
2870 Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn (Google Maps)

Chetrit firm pays $119 psf for Sheepshead Bay site

Chetrit firm pays $119 psf for Sheepshead Bay site
HFZ Capital chairman Ziel Feldman and the XI sales gallery at 25-27 Little West 12th Street (Photos via Owen Hoffmann/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images; Craig Barritt/Getty Images for XI Gallery)

HFZ extends XI sales gallery lease, ending lawsuit

HFZ extends XI sales gallery lease, ending lawsuit
Richard Ohebshalom of Pink Stone Capital and the site at 111 Washington Street (Google Maps)

Ohebshalom’s FiDi development site, freed of legal shackles, hits market

Ohebshalom’s FiDi development site, freed of legal shackles, hits market
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...