New York City details $3.3 billion shoreline plan

By Martin Z. Braun
Monday, March 14, 2011

New York City will announce a $3.3 billion plan this week for new parks, housing, ferry service and environmental improvements for its 578 miles of shoreline to boost real-estate development and recreation.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I) and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the 190-page plan, called Vision 2020, will connect neighborhoods to shorelines and improve water quality. It calls for 130 projects costing $3.3 billion to be completed in the first three years. Andrew Brent, a city spokesman, said $2.5 billion of the initial cost will be for environmental protection.

"New York City has more miles of waterfront than Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago and Portland combined - but for decades too many neighborhoods have been blocked off from it," Bloomberg said in a statement.

The city has bought about 400 acres of waterfront land since 2002 for parks, and it rezoned more than 700 acres of industrial land for housing and waterfront access in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx. New York is also spending $1.6 billion to upgrade water-treatment plants and plans to pay out millions more to protect wetlands and enhance drainage.

Under Vision 2020, new East River ferry service will start in the spring between Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, with stops in Williamsburg and Long Island City. Waterway transit will enhance development opportunities, said Steve Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, a developers' group.

"Part of the problem with developing or making the Brooklyn or Queens waterfront more attractive for investment is how do you get there," Spinola said.

The city selected Stephen Ross's New York-based Related Cos. last month to help develop more than 900 housing units, mostly for low- or middle-income families, in Hunter's Point South in Queens. The project, to be completed by 2014, includes five acres of waterfront parkland, new schools and parking.

Among spending in Vision 2020's first three years will be $360 million to build 50 acres of parks, expand 10 existing parks and develop 14 shoreline walkways. An enlarged boat ramp at Hunts Point-Riverside Park in the Bronx will be completed by 2013.

The city announced in 2009 that it will invest more than $165 million in a container port, industrial buildings and freight rail on the south Brooklyn waterfront. The project, centered on the Sunset Park area of the borough, will include a 22-acre park on a formerly polluted site.

City officials say the maritime industry supports 31,800 direct and indirect jobs and generates $1.3 billion in tax revenue.

- Bloomberg News

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