Before he leaves office at the end of this year, Mayor Bloomberg has high hopes that his Post-Sandy plans will get off the ground. Most of his ideas have been met with consensus, however, one has stirred quite a bit of controversy: adding acres of land to Lower Manhattan in order to create apartment/office towers-cum-levees.
Critics have launched a variety of arguments against the “Seaport City”: (1) practical feasibility – beyond the “tough regulatory hurdles,” the unpredictable nature of rising sea levels makes it difficult to predict how high these levee towers will actually need to be for them to safely withstand future storm surges; (2) economic feasibility – the plan would cost a whopping $20 billion dollars ($5 billion of which has yet too be accounted for); and (3) local character – local businesses are unlikely to care for their waterfront property suddenly becoming inland property, a transformation that would alter the character of the neighborhood entirely.
Bloomberg, on the other hand, maintains that Seaport City, a kind of Battery Park City for Lower Manhattan, will not only provide storm protection, but (unlike many other proposals) actually generate income, thus offsetting the project’s considerable price tag: “this approach would provide the protective value of a traditional levee while also providing new land on which commercial and residential buildings could be constructed, both to accommodate the City’s growth and to help finance the construction of the multi-purpose levee.” To really understand the feasibility of the project, however, the city of New York has just released a request for proposals from architects, planners and developers. More info, after the break…
According to Crain’s New York, “The request for proposals is a feasibility exercise more than a planning or development one, asking respondents to tackle questions of how to build a massive levee along this 1.5-mile stretch of waterfront, upon which development could someday rise. Issues of environmental impact, technical specifications, legal jurisdictions and, above all, financial costs are among the myriad topics to be outlined.”
Images via NYC Mayor’s Office Flickr Page