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$400M Grant Bringing Storm Protection to East Side, Bronx and Staten Island

By Lisha Arino | June 2, 2014 5:48pm
 See renderings of the winning proposals of the Rebuild by Design winners, which were announced June 2, 2014.
Rebuild by Design winners
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EAST VILLAGE — A barrier designed to block floodwaters from inundating the Lower East Side will be built thanks to a federal Hurricane Sandy recovery grant announced Monday.

The project — along with plans to build breakwaters near Staten Island and add flood mitigation measures to Hunts Point in The Bronx — won more than $400 million this week from Rebuild by Design, a federal competition launched last summer to rebuild areas affected by Hurricane Sandy and make them more resilient to future storms.

“Hurricane Sandy brought home the reality that we are dealing with an extreme weather pattern that we have just not seen before,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during an announcement of the grant winners at the Jacob Riis Houses at East Eighth Street and Avenue D.

While water is one of the area’s greatest assets, Cuomo added, it also a “weakness in terms of extreme weather.”

One of the three winning New York City projects is “The BIG U” on the Lower East Side, which received $335 million. The plan, proposed by a group of architects, engineers and designers called The BIG Team, would ultimately protect Manhattan's coastline from West 57th Street down to the Battery and then up to East 42nd Street. The initial phase that's funded by the grant would focus on building a "bridging berm" in East River Park from Montgomery Street up to East 23rd Street.

The project would raise a portion of the park adjacent to FDR Drive, providing protection from future storm surges and rising sea levels, officials said. It would be built on part of an unused service road between the waterfront park and the highway, and it would be covered in landscaping, including salt-tolerant trees and plantings.

In Staten Island, a $60 million federal grant would be used to build out SCAPE/Landscape Architecture’s “Living Breakwaters” project in Tottenville. The proposal would install rocky, sloped walls in the water near the coast to reduce waves and erosion while creating habitats for fish and shellfish.

In the South Bronx, PennDesign received $20 million for its proposal that focuses on Hunts Point, a hub for food distribution in the city. The money will be used to help fund a study related to the future of the area as well as a small pilot or demonstration project on flood protections.

The Rockefeller Foundation provided primary funding for the competition, which was run by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Presidential Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force.

The trio of New York City teams were three out of 10 winners in the region, chosen with input from the community.

The projects' start dates were not announced, but Mayor Bill de Blasio said officials wanted "to get that up and running immediately."