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NYC’s waterfront is about to get a multi-billion dollar facelift

With an astounding 520 miles of waterfront, New York City has lots of shoreline — and lots of opportunity for flooding as sea levels rise.

That’s why today’s forward-thinking developers and designers are creating ambitious, sustainable waterfront projects that feature natural areas, flood breaks, sea walls, esplanades, parks and piers — measures that protect the city and its water views.

One of the most ambitious projects underway is the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency Project — a $500 million ring of resiliency proposed for the tip of Manhattan.

Part of the effort includes the already approved $1.45 billion East Side Coastal Resiliency Project that will raise waterfront esplanades, plant 2,000 trees and create flood berms, said Kai-Uwe Bergmann of the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), which designed the ring.

Most efforts to improve the city’s waterfront, however, are concentrated on the outer boroughs, where industry had long cut off residents from the coast.

In University Heights in The Bronx, Dynamic Star has tapped Dan Kaplan of CBRE to market a slice of its 2.5 million-square-foot, 14-acre Fordham Landing project, which has 3,000 feet of frontage along the Harlem River.

The portion for sale includes a plan for 560,000 square feet of apartments and 250,000 square feet of community facilities. It’s expected to trade for north of $80 million.

An aerial shot of Fordham Landing.
An aerial shot of Fordham Landing.

According to Brad Zackson, a partner in Dynamic Star, the area’s swimmable water makes it perfect for kayaking, fishing and a beach with soft edges that will aid in resiliency and shorebird habitats. To protect against storm surges, the esplanade will be raised by 14 feet.

In the Mott Haven area of the South Bronx, a bevy of rap stars — including LL Cool J, Nas and Grandmaster Flash — gathered in May to fête the groundbreaking of the $349 million Bronx Point project, which will house a 52,000-square-foot Universal Hip Hop Museum and 542 units of affordable housing adjacent to the 145th Street Bridge to Harlem.

Developed by Ron Moelis of L+M Development Partners and Type A Projects, the site will have water access and 2½ acres of parkland.

A few blocks south, Third at Bankside plans to open its first 450-unit rental building later this year. The $950 million project developed by Brookfield Properties straddles 4.3 acres on both sides of the Third Avenue Bridge. It will include 1,370 apartments with 30% affordable, and a 34,000-square-foot waterfront space designed by MPFP.

Bronx Point and  Universal Hip Hop Museum.
The $325 million Bronx Point project will host the Universal Hip Hop Museum and 2½ acres of planted parkland.

But the most ambitious waterfront towers are rising in Brooklyn.

Notably, Brookfield Properties and partner Park Tower are wrapping up construction on the eight-building, 5,500-unit Greenpoint Landing.

The project’s two luxury rental towers at 1 and 2 Blue Slip are offering deals, including a penthouse that rents for $12,000 a month. Three smaller buildings at 5 Blue Slip, 7 Bell Slip and 33 Eagle St. boast affordable rentals, with the latter having three outdoor garden rooms watered by an stormwater cleansing system.

Two additional towers just south of Newtown Barge Park are designed by architects at OMA to resemble puzzle pieces. The unique shapes will allow morning light to fill the new 1-acre esplanade designed by James Corner Field Operations (JCFO).

A pool at Greenpoint Landing.
Poolside and waterside at Greenpoint Landing.
Brookfield Properties

Finally, Site H at the northernmost tip of Greenpoint Landing will eventually have a 30-story, 400-unit building connected to the esplanade.

“In the future, we will see more and more residential on the waterfront,” predicted Brookfield’s Ali Esmaeilzadeh, senior vice president of development.

Early to the neighborhood’s waterfront, is the Greenpoint at 21 India St. — a 39-story tower with 95 condos and 287 rentals developed in 2017 by Mack Real Estate Group, Palin Enterprises and Urban Development Partners.

The adjacent 1 India St. parcel was sold last fall for $110.8 million to Lendlease and the Australian fund, Aware Super.

An extioer shot at dawn at 1 India Street.
Soon, 1 India St. will boast a 800-unit net-zero carbon tower.
David Joshua Ford

In a few years, the 3-acre site will be home to a net-zero carbon building with over 800 units — 30% to be affordable — set around a landscaped courtyard, according to Burch. Lendlease will also redevelop the current India Street Pier and ferry stop.

JCFO is designing 1 India’s landscaped esplanade to include a softscape with natural grasses plus places to linger such as large steps. Such integrated resiliency efforts will hold back the rising tides.

“People will be able to get down and touch the…

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