Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg released a development proposal last month entitled, “A Better, Stronger New York.” The proposal was a reaction to the damage that Hurricane Sandy caused when it reached as far as Manhattan last year as it declined into a tropical storm. Bloomberg’s proposal would entail creating a large waterfront development named Seaport City that mirrors Battery Park City on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The mayor would not be in office for the development to be put into action, but Michael Bloomberg says that the construction of Seaport City will help New York be more resilient in the wake of climate change related disasters.
Battery Park City is built on the opposite side of the lower tip of the island, and was originally envisioned in the 1960s by Governor Nelson Rockefeller as a community revival project. Governor Andrew Cuomo oversees and appoints the board members of the community, which includes Martha Gallo, investment banker, and Carl Mattone, real estate developer, who joined the board just last summer. The neighborhood features eight certified “green buildings” and has high air and water quality standards. Environmental standards for Battery Park City were developed in 2000, with additional guidelines published in 2002. The guidelines set standards for energy efficiency and public health in home and commercial environments.
Mayor Bloomberg sees Seaport City was a way to protect the coast line of Manhattan without using the space to build a traditional levee. Battery Park City held up better than most neighborhoods in the storm, so the model is resilient as well as sustainably designed. Steve Cohen, a professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute endorses the idea, and says that the environmentally friendly development will attract economic growth and provide return on the investment. The project is currently estimated to cost $20 billion, so Seaport City has already seen its critics and raised concerns. However, climate change is demanding that such investments will need to be made. Better sooner than later.