Monday, January 7, 2013

No good deed goes unpunished

From the NY Times:

Once home to colonial estates and a Cuban sugar importer, then a public beach, a railroad float yard, a city landfill during the Bronx’s burning years, an illegal dumping ground tied to the mob, a proposed power plant and a jail, Oak Point, which Mr. Smith developed, now features a $60 million warehouse supplying food to bodegas and restaurants.

For three months the waterfront on the 28-acre site was also home to a wetland with verdant slopes and grassy marshes. Paradise in the Bronx.

And then it was all lost: two years of planning, nine months of work, $1.5 million and three acres of wetlands washed away in a matter of hours by Hurricane Sandy’s 13-foot storm surge. What remain are a few patches of marsh grass, a Charlie Brown-like evergreen and one lonely, weedy mound just below a concrete wall.

Based on what survived, Mr. Smith advocates rebuilding by integrating, or layering, hard and soft materials.

He has a wider vision, though, beyond the waterfront, for his remaining 13 acres. He plans a three-level “food campus” for a wholesale farmers’ market for New York State growers, a rooftop greenhouse, a kitchen incubator and public space overlooking the water. In December, Oak Point’s second phase (projected at $80 million) received a $400,000 economic development grant from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

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