As part of the Resilient Neighborhoods initiative, the Department of City Planning has been working with communities in the East Village, Lower East Side and Two Bridges to identify challenges associated with retrofitting multifamily buildings to withstand future flooding while preserving the area’s affordable housing stock. These neighborhoods were selected not only because they were severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy, but also because of the unique challenges for multifamily buildings unable to elevate or easily floodproof while housing significant numbers of families reliant on affordable housing.
This more than two year effort resulted in a comprehensive report that explores actions that support the area’s continued vitality, reduce its risk associated with coastal flooding, and ensure the long-term resiliency of its built environment. Included in the report are a series of case studies that demonstrate best practices for retrofitting multifamily affordable housing development. The intent of these case studies is twofold: 1) to educate building owners; and 2) to highlight areas for further advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels.
View the summary report on in the East Village, Lower East Side and Two Bridges.
In order to better understand the various challenges that residents and property owners in the East Village, Lower East Side and Two Bridges face, DCP reached out to a variety of stakeholders including residents, the local community board, local elected officials and community-based organizations. At the outset of the process, the team presented to Community Board 3 and other local officials to inform residents of the study and gather early questions and concerns. This was also a chance to identify local challenges that needed further study.
DCP also met with LES Ready!, a coalition of more than thirty community-based organizations and institutions. The group was founded following Hurricane Sandy as the long-term recovery group of the Lower East Side. Additional meetings were held by DCP with local property owners and advocacy organizations including Nazareth Housing, Lower East Side People’s Mutual Housing Association (LESPHMA), Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE), and others.
The East Village, Lower East Side, and Two Bridges study area encompasses approximately fifty-four square blocks that span 2.2 miles of Manhattan along the East River from 14th Street at the northern boundary of the East Village neighborhood, down to the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge in the Two Bridges neighborhood.
Nearly 70,000 residents live in almost 26,000 dwelling units housed in 600 buildings throughout the area, most of which are vulnerable to flooding from a 1% annual chance storm. A significant number of the dwelling units within the study area provide affordable housing for local residents, and are located primarily within either high rise tower and tower in the park buildings, or mid-rise tenement-style buildings. Though predominantly multifamily, the building types range widely from very narrow four story walkups clustered tightly along narrow streets in the East Village area, to sprawling campuses of multifamily towers of five to twenty-six stories along the East River waterfront. As Sandy demonstrated, the building stock in these areas is generally structurally strong and withstood damage to foundation systems; however, the loss of mechanical and electrical systems greatly impacted living conditions and resulted in the temporary displacement of residents, many of whom were elderly and low–income and had limited housing choices.
With community input and coordination with other agencies, including NYC Housing Preservation and Development and the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, DCP developed a planning framework, depicted below, that identifies policy recommendations to help address neighborhood resiliency issues and provide a menu of retrofitting solutions that address the area’s building stock. The goal is to broaden the range of flood mitigation options available to multifamily property owners while maintaining housing affordability and ensuring the area’s vitality and diversity in the future.
The Resilient Neighborhoods Initiative is part of a broad range of efforts by the City to recover from Hurricane Sandy, promote rebuilding and increase the city’s resilience to climate-related events, including coastal flooding and storm surge. Recommendations from this program were developed in consultation with area stakeholders and were coordinated with other initiatives, including:
For more information contact: ResilientManhattan_DL@planning.nyc.gov