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The Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority (the “Authority”) is a public benefit corporation created in 1968 by the New York State Legislature to be responsible for planning, developing and maintaining the residential, commercial, parks and open space located along the Hudson River in Lower Manhattan in New York City (the “City”). Home to 16,000 people, the work place of 40,000 more, and visited by more than a half-million people each year, New York’s Battery Park City is an asset to both the State and City.
According to the Battery Park City Master Plan of 1979, Battery Park City was envisioned not to be a self-contained community, but rather a neighborhood woven into our city’s fabric. Through its contributions, the Authority is deeply committed to the mission of providing resources for the good of neighborhoods across the five boroughs.
Battery Park City Authority has a long history of environmental leadership. Since its inception, the parks and open spaces in Battery Park City were designed with environmental quality as a priority. In the early 2000s, the Authority released environmental guidelines for residential buildings and commercial buildings, leading to the development of buildings that were well ahead of city, and even global standards at the time. The BPC Sustainability Plan, released in 2020, builds on Battery Park City’s robust environmental legacy with a refreshed commitment to take and facilitate bold and effective action to enhance sustainability and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Board and management of the Authority remains committed to encouraging and pursuing resiliency and environmental sustainability among its top priorities.
Through its layout and geographic orientation, Battery Park City is an intentionally knitted extension of the City’s streets and blocks. The names of streets heading east and west are purposely the same as those on the opposite side of West Street. Battery Park City was never considered an addition to New York City, but rather, a continuation of this dynamic City’s development into the 21st century.
U.S. cities and states are experiencing severe and increasing financial impacts as a result of climate change and extreme weather events. From 2010-2019, the U.S. experienced 131 climate-related disasters that generated losses of more than $1 billion each; this is a stark comparison to 33 such incidents in the 1980s.1
To both mitigate and respond to future events, U.S. municipalities are exploring ways to fortify infrastructure and provide energy-efficient affordable housing. Sustainability bonds, which fund projects with both environmental and social benefits, are one key way that cities and states are raising capital for these efforts. Here’s what institutional and retail investors should know about the market for sustainability bonds and some of the ways they are making a difference.
Construction is moving along on the South Battery Park City Resiliency Project (SBPCR), an integrated coastal flood risk management system at the southern tip of Battery Park City. Led by architect and engineer AECOM, the $221 million project involves the creation of an elevated landscaped waterfront esplanade spanning from the Museum of Jewish Heritage to Pier A Plaza, as well as the reconstruction of the Wagner Park Pavilion with a new design by Thomas Phifer and Partners. The SBPCR is one component of the 3.5-mile-long Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency (LMCR) master plan, which is engineered to reduce the risk of flood damage from storm events like Hurricane Sandy. Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority is the owner and EW Howell Co. is the general contractor for the property, which is addressed on permits as 20 Battery Place.
Recent photographs show the site fully cleared, with dirt raising its elevation higher than the street level of Battery Place. Some steel plates and columns have also begun to be placed for the new two-story Wagner Park Pavilion’s foundations. The 19,204-square-foot structure will sit 11 to 12 feet higher than its predecessor and contain a community room, a restaurant and public restrooms at ground level, storage space for staff, and an ADA-compliant roof deck. The building is being engineered to achieve ILFI Net-Zero Carbon Certification with geothermal heating and cooling systems, LED lighting, high-performance glazing, a highly insulated envelope, low-flow fixtures, and recycled building materials.
Authority Reviews Updated Plans for Resiliency Measures
More than 200 Lower Manhattan residents turned out on June 26, when the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) hosted a public meeting about its North/West Battery Park City Resiliency Project. The session reviewed the most recent design developments for protective measures along the Esplanade (and extending into Tribeca) to address risks associated with storm surge and sea level rise. These plans are now approximately 30 percent complete.
With early budget estimates pegging construction costs at approximately $630 million, the Authority’s plans for resiliency divide the scope of the project into seven “reaches”—discrete stretches of waterfront and adjacent upland acreage.
Reach One falls entirely outside Battery Park City, enveloping part of Tribeca, along with the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) and the Hudson River Park south of North Moore Street. Here, the flood barrier system will be comprised of both passive and deployable structures that “tie‐back” to higher ground at Greenwich Street. In this area, the BPCA’s design team has settled on a flood wall that aligns with buildings on the southern edge of North Moore Street, before hooking to the left and hugging the facade of BMCC as far as Harrison Street. At the intersection of Harrison and West Streets, the flood barrier will cross into Hudson River Park and run between the bike and pedestrian paths toward Stuyvesant High School.
Reach Two encompasses the North Esplanade behind Stuyvesant High School. In this section, a passive flood protection structure will be concealed within a terraced garden landscape, with a new platform built three feet higher than the current elevation and extending further into the water in an undulating “wave” shape.
Reach Three aims to protect Rockefeller Park and its adjacent stretch of the Esplanade to Vesey Street. “We focused on what we think is the most efficient option, which is basically to work with the elevation that River Terrace currently has, and see if we can integrate the flood wall into that retaining wall, so that what we’re building is less changed,” explained Peter Glus of the design and engineering firm Arcadis, and leader of the BPCA’s design team.
In this zone, no new wall is needed between Chambers and Warren Streets, as flood protection is gained by the existing wall along the River Terrace sidewalk. Additions to the existing wall south of Warren Street will increase to a height of 4.75 feet at the Rockefeller Park playground. This design envisions minimal impacts on the Rockefeller Park lawns (although they will have to be closed temporarily to add new drainage equipment under the grass), but will add deployable gates at the ends of the streets intersecting with River Terrace. The basketball courts will be resurfaced and realigned. Concerns voiced by residents about earlier versions of the Reach Three plan have been addressed by a new design that keeps the existing lily pond intact at its current location. Behind the lily pond, the flood wall tapers to a height of three feet. The playground adjacent to the lily pond will be partially rebuilt.
Belvedere Plaza is encircled by Reach Four, between Vesey Street and the uptown side of North Cove Marina. In this catchment, another point of controversy has been addressed by a new design that calls for the ferry terminal to remain in its current location. “We heard a lot of feedback about the terminal,” Mr. Glus acknowledged, “about whether to move it south, whether to move it north. What the design team has tried to do is work with the ferry terminal in place without moving it, because we recognize that movement would exacerbate some of the issues that some of the community is experiencing.”
Reach Five envisions ways to harden North Cove Marina against catastrophic flooding with a four-foot flood barrier that will be integrated into new features, such as benches and planters. At the edge of Pump House Park (see rendering above), this wall will reach a height of seven feet. Within Kowsky Plaza, it will scale back to 6.5 feet, while hewing to the wall of Gateway Plaza.
In Reach Six, upgrades to the South Esplanade between Liberty Street and Third Place consist of a passive structure following the existing masonry privacy wall near the residential buildings. This wall will top out at 7.5 feet, and will be supplemented with deployable structures at Albany Street, Rector Place, and West Thames Street, anchored to walls on either side of each street that narrow pedestrian access to the Esplanade.
And Reach Seven covers South Cove, where a wall six feet high will be installed along the southern edge of the Regatta condominium, scaling back to 4.5 feet as it traces the western edges of the Riverwatch and South Cove buildings. Deployable barriers will be installed where the Esplanade meets Third, Second, and First Places.
The BPCA and its design team expect to refine these plans further, reaching a threshold of 60 percent design completion by the spring of 2024, with final designs circulated late next year or early in 2025. Construction is expected to begin in 2025 and continue through 2028.
After the June 26 meeting, BPCA executive Gwen Dawson said the session “provided essential community feedback. We invite everyone to keep the conversation going by using our online tool to review the design materials and submit your thoughts over the coming weeks. We also look forward to scheduling a range of additional public sessions this fall.”
The public is invited to contribute reactions and questions about the design process for the North/West Battery Park City Resiliency Project online at dotstorming.com/b/6495d64c2fb42805abf9ece3. Comments will be accepted through the end of September.
Donald Capoccia is the managing principal and founder of BFC Partners, a real estate development company that has been involved in the planning, development and construction of some 12,500 units of housing in New York City with a combined value of $4.5B. His projects also include approximately 2,000,000SF of neighborhood retail and community facility uses. Mr. Capoccia began his development and construction activities in New York City in 1982, just prior to the completion of a Masters Degree Program in Urban Planning at Hunter College, and after completing a BA in Urban Studies from the University of Buffalo in 1979. Mr. Capoccia and BFC have focused predominately on the production of affordable housing, investing in a concentrated geographic strategy that has helped spur the resurgence of key New York City neighborhoods; the East Village, East Harlem, Williamsburg and Downtown Brooklyn. Mr. Capoccia has pioneered the production, and promoted the importance of affordable home ownership opportunities to these neighborhoods.
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