With NYC's Plan to Elevate Buildings, Chaban Asks 'Will Jane Jacobs Float?'

Hurricane Sandy made New York's increasing vulnerability to extreme storms apparent, and the need elevate buildings in flood-prone areas imperative. This task is made particularly challenging due to the prevalence of multistory buildings.

"Up and down the coast of New York and New Jersey, property owners are being forced to raise their homes and businesses above a new 100-year floodplain drawn up and mandated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency," writes Matt Chaban. 

"FEMA does this all over the country, but by-and-large, New York looks different than a lot of these places," said Howard Slatkin, the Department of City Planning's director of sustainability. "In addition to small homes, we've got rowhouses and apartment buildings and a streetscape we want to maintain."

"On Monday, the city put forward its plan to address these problems by certifying a slew of proposed zoning changes that would allow for the elevation of buildings. For the past seven months, Mr. Slatkin and a team at the City Planning Department have been wrestling with the challenge of coming up with a way to fortify the city against future storms without destroying the urban character that makes New York unique."

"If buildings must be raised five, eight, even 12 feet up on stilts, planners fear it could deaden New York's vibrant street life along coastal areas," notes Chaban. "In other words, will Jane Jacobs float?"

Full Story: A storm-proof way to elevate city buildings

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