Columbia University Think Tank Urges Waterfront Development

A new report by a Columbia University think tank warns that the one million additional residents expected to hit the city by 2030 will have nowhere to live if the city’s waterfront neighborhoods aren’t further developed to accommodate them.

110315 nyc waterfront skyline1 Columbia University Think Tank Urges Waterfront Development

(Credit: Associated Press)

The Center for Urban Real Estate report’s authors would pack people into smaller areas than the Bloomberg administration has planned, into waterfront real estate that is close to transit and to Manhattan, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“It’s clear that we have to figure out how to develop our waterfront but in a smart and resilient way,” Vishaan Chakrabarti, the Center’s director, told the newspaper, calling the Hudson Yards and Atlantic Yards projects “a drop in the bucket,” and suggesting further development in Long Island City and Willets Point, Queens, Red Hook, Brooklyn and the Financial District.

“What surprised me most was the scale of the problem,” he added.  “It’s a clarion call that we don’t have enough housing.”

The report’s authors cautioned that the suggestion is a “planning tool” and doesn’t take into account the politics of zoning.  Incidentally, the report comes after nearly 12 years of large-scale redevelopment in the city, with the Bloomberg administration undertaking 119 rezonings, and a handful of high-profile rezonings have transformed industrial waterfront neighborhoods into residential areas with new 40-story towers, WSJ noted.

Among other issues, packed subway cars, too few schools and park space and aesthetically dull housing are of concern.

“We have one ball field in Battery Park City, which was damaged after Sandy,” Catherine McVay Hughes, chairwoman of Community Board 1, told WSJ.  “The soccer season was completely eliminated.”

The scope of development implied in the report also raises concerns regarding safety and feasibility following Hurricane Sandy, which ravaged parts of Lower Manhattan, Long Island City and Red Hook.

The report treats this as an opportunity.

“We need the infrastructure to prevent storm surges,” said Jesse Keenan, the center’s research director.  “Why not build housing on top?”

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