Some feared that Hurricane Sandy would stifle the waterfront dreams of city planners and private development companies. They needn’t have worried. True, there are many NYC apartment buildings in need of repairs six months after the superstorm, and many more are still using exterior, “temporary” generators for their power. Also, the A train to Rockaway Beach looks like it won’t be back in time for summer (shuttle bus, here I come!), and the MTA’s new, half-a-billion-dollar South Ferry station, opened in 2009 and considered a crown jewel in the system, is still two to three YEARS away from being operational again.
But clearly these are minor details, for not even the ravages of the storm of the century seem to be able damper our recent love affair with the riverfront. So take a look at two updates to two big public projects on either side of the East River, both of which will change the way we interact with the waterfront for decades to come.
East River Blueway Plans Will Transform the Waterfront, as well as How It’s Used
Last week WXY Architecture revealed the full renderings for their awesomely ambitious East River Blueway, which would provide ready access to the waterfront for Manhattan residents from the South Street Seaport area all the way up to 38th Street. We’ve seen some of plan’s highlights before, including the sandy beach beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, and the loopy, X-shaped pedestrian and cyclist bridge at 14th Street, which would not only provide a safer, more pleasant way to navigate the FDR, but would also function as a barrier for the big Con Ed substation that blew during Sandy.
Also of note: a major revitalization of Stuyvesant Cove Park near 20th Street, which could include a floating boat launch and a public rooftop garden, complete with revenue-producing food vendors to contribute to the space’s upkeep. All along the Blueway there would be salt marshes and freshwater wetlands to contain flooding and attract wildlife.
Thr Brooklyn Greenway, Partially Built, Will Take Waterfront Development to A Whole Other Level
Meanwhile across the river, plans for completing the Brooklyn Greenway, that 14-mile, continuous bike-and-pedestrian route that would connect Bay Ridge to Greenpoint, continue apace. Last month three more sections of the Brooklyn Greenway were placed on the the DOT’s construction calendar. In Red Hook the $12.5 million plan is to play connect-the-dots with existing bike paths, from Degraw Street straight past Fairway and into Valentino Park.
The Brooklyn Navy Yard section of the route will receive a significant upgrade, getting widened and separated in in both directions along Flushing Avenue. And in Greenpoint there will be a $10 million renovation of the path on West Street. There are also plans to create green spaces, or “natural nodes”, all along the route, including possibly turning the 1.7-acre Naval Hospital Cemetery into a park.