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.