Rather than retreating from flood-prone neighborhoods after Hurricane Sandy, some developers are wading deeper into waterfront markets, especially in Queens and Brooklyn, where they are finding large parcels of land close to mass transit. These are calculated risks, bolstered by years of flood-zone price growth and unwavering demand.
Whether these new apartment buildings can endure another major storm does not seem to be a concern for most residents, who are glad to have new options in inventory-starved markets. Critics, though, ask whether the neighborhoods can withstand the surge of new development and the stress it will add to an already strained infrastructure. These new buildings might remain unscathed in a flood, they say, but what about the damage caused by the torrent around them?
Waterfront building has continued apace since Hurricane Sandy, and it could soon accelerate. As of January, there were roughly 12,350 new apartments under construction or planned in the city’s worst flood zones, according to Localize.city, a real-estate data website. That means 12.4 percent — or roughly one in eight new apartments — will be built in a high-risk flood zone, up from 10.7 percent in 2014, said Tal Rubin, the company’s vice president of research. And last year, 2,362 flood-zone units were completed — nearly double the number delivered in 2014, she said.
The largest share of these buildings is on the southern tip of Brooklyn, in areas like Brighton Beach, Coney Island and Gravesend, where a total of 45 projects — about a third of all flood-zone buildings — are rising. They represent a combined 1,571 units. Pricier precincts near Manhattan, like Long Island City in Queens, and Greenpoint and Williamsburg in Brooklyn, had the most units overall, with a total of 5,561 apartments in 20 buildings, accounting for 45 percent of new flood-zone units.