Monday, November 5, 2012
That was one huge zoning mistake...
From the NY Times:
...the scene speaks to something so obvious it is often overlooked: The waterfront in New York City has never been a suitable place to live. And yet in recent years affluent New Yorkers have been encouraged to colonize it with great fervor. The trend began in the late ’60s and ’70s, with the development of Battery Park City and its high rises, on landfill. Dumbo started to emerge in the ’90s and has since become one of the costliest neighborhoods in the city. The real momentum, though, did not take hold until the Bloomberg administration reimagined the city’s debilitated industrial waterfront as a winding ribbon of good living — a cornerstone of its legacy.
There are expensive condominiums now where factories once stood in Williamsburg, and residential and commercial real estate is coming to a decommissioned naval base in Staten Island. A condominium and hotel complex, with vast family-size apartments, is planned for the northern end of Brooklyn Bridge Park which the storm’s force for a short time rendered indistinguishable from the river itself. The Bloomberg public-private model earmarks money for waterfront green space that in turn lures developers who provide a tax base to support operating costs. But the paradigm rests on an assumption that living on the water will remain an infinitely desirable thing. Our increasingly intimidating weather patterns would suggest that the idea is now vulnerable to challenge.
It is obvious that infrastructural changes need to be made for expansion to sustain itself — crucially, the rethinking of parks and wetland development as infrastructure, which would work to absorb the effects of rising sea levels. But new building ideologies need to prevail as well.
Historically, in many cities of course, elevation has held cachet.
It’s the needy who have been sequestered downward. Not long ago, Ms. Drake, a landscape architect, curious about the placement of New York City’s public housing, devised a map to find out how much of it was built on flood zones. The answer, she discovered, was, most of it. Public housing lines the waterfront in Coney Island, on the Lower East Side, in the Rockaways. This is not the result of progressive and munificent city planning aimed at enhancing the day-to-day aesthetic experience of the poor. Instead it was the result of low-lying waterfront land available at a cheap price.
All this has gotten me to thinking about what a great urban planner that Amanda Burden is!