Coney Island, America’s most storied amusement resort, is experiencing an enormous effort to renew and reinvigorate its vibrant and diverse beachfront community following major rezoning. What was once a vast expanse of unending entertainment at the turn of the 20th century, comprising the triad of Steeplechase Park, Luna Park, and Dreamland, Coney Island quickly became reduced to large patches of parking lots, falling from the premier entertainment destination of the world to an isolated neighborhood. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, with New Yorkers working on hybrid schedules between their home and a Manhattan office, people have been seeking more hospitable outlying neighborhoods with direct transit access for when they need it. This has resulted in a massive expansion in mixed-income housing developments for the community and renewed interest in Coney Island as an entertainment destination. In our tour we will visit a selection of these new residential projects along Surf Avenue, as well as the newly revived entertainment sites of Coney Island.
The East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) Project is a coastal protection initiative jointly funded by the city of New York and the federal government, aimed at reducing flood risk from coastal storms and sea-level rise on Manhattan’s East Side from East 25th Street to Montgomery Street. ESCR is a one-of-a-kind, forward-thinking resilience project being constructed in a dense urban environment with complex below- and above-ground infrastructure. The 2.4-mile flood protection project is intended to build physical, social, and economic resilience, strengthening the city’s coastline while improving waterfront open space and accessibility.
The boundaries of this project correspond with the natural “pinch-points” in the 100-year floodplain: areas where the land is higher along the coastline, making it easier to close the system off from water entering from the north and south. The project design integrates flood protection into the community fabric while improving waterfront access and public open space.
The ESCR Project is the first step in the city’s plan for a more extensive coastal protection system around Lower Manhattan. This project is the result of years of planning and collaboration among city, state, and federal agencies, elected officials, and the local community, which has been enabled by a $338 million federal grant to fund design and construction, with the remainder of the project's $1.45 billion total cost funded by the city of New York. The city has worked with community partners and residents to identify the best ways to meet the many challenges caused by the climate crisis, including sea level rise and more frequent, intense storms.
This tour will introduce people to portions of the project that are already completed and phases under construction in a “hard hat” tour led by DDC and the design team. Construction on the project began fall 2020 and will continue through 2026.
This tour will also visit the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resilience Project. Lower Manhattan is at the core of New York City’s transportation system, economy, and civic life. Millions of people travel through this area by rail, bus, car, and ferry every day, and the residential population has increased by 170 percent in the last two decades. By the 2040s, Lower Manhattan’s shoreline will begin to experience frequent tidal flooding from seal level rise, impacting streets, sidewalks, buildings, and critical infrastructure. Failure to act now will render much of this area unusable, leading to the loss of Lower Manhattan as we know it today. The Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency (LMCR) Project is an integrated coastal protection initiative to reduce flood risk from coastal storms and sea level rise. The city, state, and federal government have committed over $1.7 billion in capital investments for climate adaptation projects.
The Financial District and Seaport Climate Resilience Plan will complete this comprehensive flood defense strategy by providing protection along the one-mile stretch of waterfront between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Battery. The plan features a multilevel waterfront that extends into the East River and will provide protection against both sea level rise and severe storms. This plan reflects a shared City-community vision to protect the area from climate change, while providing new universally accessible public open spaces, resilient ferry terminals and piers, and space for habitat restoration. When implemented, the Financial District and Seaport Climate Resilience Plan is expected to prevent $11 billion in economic losses to the city and region.
The Gowanus neighborhood has historically been best known for the toxic sludge-filled canal that runs through its center. Sandwiched between three quintessential brownstone neighborhoods–Park Slope and Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill–this 82-block swath of Brooklyn has until recently been home to a gritty mix of industrial uses, with a dash of off-beat bars and barbeque joints. After a decade-long zoning overhaul that came into effect in 2022, Gowanus is now in the middle of a dramatic transformation. A vibrant mixed-use neighborhood is emerging that eventually will include over 8,200 new apartments, including 3,000 affordable units, 500,000 square feet of commercial and maker space, and a verdant esplanade that lines both sides of a cleaned-up canal.
This walking tour will include several mixed-use, mixed-income multifamily projects in various stages of completion; a world-class anchor arts facility; an exemplar piece of green infrastructure; and the emerging public realm that ties it all together. The tour will be enriched with informal presentations by the planners, policymakers, developers, and designers who are making it all happen.
Visit groundbreaking resilience-focused projects in Rockaway, Queens. The Arverne East project is a master-planned development transforming a 116-acre oceanfront site, composed of a 35-acre publicly accessible nature preserve, mixed-income housing of various tenure, diverse neighborhood retail, parking, and infrastructure. This project also includes a boutique hotel, recreation spaces, an urban farm, and both short- and long-term uses to encourage economic development, cultural programs, and community health and wellness. Arverne East will also include a district geothermal ambient loop, which will tie into individual building systems for increased efficiency and reduced consumption in heating, cooling, and domestic hot water.
Beach Green Dunes II is a model for resilient, green, affordable housing development, delivering 127 affordable homes to one of the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods. Like Arvene East, this building’s design and construction uses Passive House principles, a cutting-edge sustainable building method, to increase the building’s energy efficiency. Beach Green Dunes II is a perfect example for how cities and developers can build cutting-edge sustainable design to deliver affordable housing in communities grappling with severe storms, tidal flooding, and rising sea levels.
Beach Green Dunes III is currently vacant land owned by the city of New York and is being developed by L+M Development Partners in conjunction with Triangle Equities and The Bluestone Organization. This project will contain residential space, commercial/retail space, and community facility space, as well as an open space transit plaza. Beach Green Dunes III will also be a Passive House–certified building and participate in the city’s Housing Development Corporation’s and Department of Housing Preservation & Development’s Extremely Low and Low Income (ELLA) housing program.