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March 24, 2019

De Blasio proposes $10B plan to extend Lower Manhattan two blocks into the East River to fight climate change

March 14, 2019
Mayor de Blasio proposed extending the South Street Seaport area by two city blocks into the East River — part of a $10 billion effort fend off rising sea levels as a result of climate change. (NYC Mayor’s Office)

Mayor de Blasio proposed extending the South Street Seaport area by two city blocks into the East River — part of a $10 billion effort to fend off rising sea levels as a result of climate change.

“We had to find something that would work, no matter how expensive or ambitious it was,” de Blasio said Thursday at a press conference downtown.

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The plan also advances $500 million for four other capital projects around Lower Manhattan and to set up more immediate interim flood protections — including retractable barriers around the Seaport and parts of the Financial District and Two Bridges neighborhoods.

City Hall noted the importance of the area to the city — it is home to the FDR Drive, the Battery Tunnel and the A and C subway line tunnels — and the difficulty of securing it, because it is the most low-lying part of Manhattan.

The plan calls for extending the shoreline by a maximum of 500 feet, or two city blocks, with high points of the land at or above 20 feet above current sea level. The land would serve as a flood barrier during storms — but could also be home to new buildings, including potential private development.

That echoes a similar plan rolled out by former Mayor Bloomberg years ago, dubbed “Seaport City.” The de Blasio administration had also been studying a network of land-based barriers and parks around Lower Manhattan — some of which is going forward, further uptown on the East River, known as the East River Coastal Resiliency Project.

“The plan that was on the table, we came to realize was going to take way too long and was actually the wrong solution for a lot of the areas of the Manhattan shoreline,” de Blasio said.

De Blasio said the original plan for Seaport City was larger “very private development heavy.”

“We could do more, and more quickly, without that kind of intensive development,” de Blasio said.

The extent of the new shoreline — as well as what’s put on top of it — will be determined with public input, the mayor said, and will be subject to the city’s land use review procedure.

De Blasio said the project to expand the shoreline ought to receive federal funding — but that he was not hopeful it would. The city will get the ball

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