New York has always been a waterfront city, but the pleasures, and dangers, of the coast are drawing renewed attention, with more parks and homes. Now, an influential group has a way for New Yorkers to ensure more waterfront building is done to maximum benefit. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following exclusive report.
Parts of the city's waterfront are blooming. A windmill spins in Brooklyn, powering a recycling plant. Scores of homes sprouting on a Queens beach. A new rolling park on the east side of Manhattan, for play and for protection in the era of rising sea levels.
"We've rediscovered our waterfront as our harbor has gotten cleaner over the last generation," said Roland Lewis of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance.
Lewis wants that rediscovery to continue properly. His organization is the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. They're releasing a rating system for building responsibly on the water. It's the first of its kind, and it's not just meant for developers.
"Conversely, the community can have a tool by which it can talk to the waterfront stakeholders about what their ideas are, what they would want," Lewis said. "It's a way of having a common language about what's good to build on the waterfront."
In other words, it's sort of a good housekeeping seal for waterfront development. It's in addition to the hodgepodge of existing zoning regulations.
These new criteria are more general: how much the building protects aquatic life, how accessible it is to the public, how resilient it is to flooding like New York saw after Hurricane Sandy and how innovative it is.
Right now, you're considered certified if you get 100 points out of possible 300. The worst? A zero.
Hundreds of officials and experts developed the system. The goal is not just opening up the waterfront, but improving it, too.
"Spaces that previously were fenced off, were demarcated by chain-link fences that kept people out, are now accessible," said Rock Bell of the Center for Architecture. "But what is the quality of the space? That's what the guidelines address."
An exhibit on the guidelines is open to the public through February 21. It's at the Center for Architecture in Greenwich Village.