New York Continues to Rebuild 5 Years After Superstorm Sandy

The Domino Sugar development on the Brooklyn waterfront was redesigned after Sandy to make it more resilient to flooding.
SHoP Architects

The Domino Sugar construction site on the Brooklyn waterfront is about as close to the water as you can get.

“When you came here in 2012, you could almost reach down and touch the East River, and now you’re considerably above it,” said David Lombino, a managing director at Two Trees, standing on a concrete pier that juts out 50 feet over the water.

The developer bought this waterfront site for $185 million in 2012 after falling in love with the expansive views of the Manhattan skyline and the Williamsburg Bridge.

A month later, the storm-surge from Sandy flooded most of the property.

Lombino says the company spent the next two years totally reworking its plans. It raised the grade of the entire site between two and seven feet, and moved the footprint of new buildings back at least 50 feet further from the river.

That was expensive. But Lombino says it was worth it to reduce the risk of future flood damage.

“It’s not a matter of if it will flood again,” Lombino said. “It’s a matter of when, and how quickly we can bounce back the next time.”

It’s not just developers who are planning for the next storm. Since Sandy, New York City has made big changes to its building and zoning codes for structures of all kinds — from luxury apartments to single family homes — aimed at getting expensive heating and electrical systems out of basements and off the ground.

“We’re replacing less safe buildings with more safe buildings,” said Daniel Zarrilli, New York’s senior director of climate policy and programs. “So that means we’re elevating the house. We’re elevating the core infrastructure — the mechanicals, the electrical equipment, the meter. All of that is being raised out of harm’s way and out of the floodplain.”

Even the city’s critics concede New York has moved quickly since Sandy.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: NPR, Joel Rose