Battery Park City Flood Protection: Here's What the Latest Plans Look Like

Rendering of a proposed flood resiliency design for Belvedere Plaza, near North Cove and Brookfield Place. Rendering: Battery Park City Authority/BPCA

Jul. 25, 2023

At a community meeting last month, the design team working on the mammoth, landscape-altering North/West Battery Park City Resiliency Project presented their latest preliminary designs for a flood barrier system from Greenwich Street in Tribeca and the esplanade north of Stuyvesant High School all the way down to South Cove. The design is at what the planners call the “30% point,” and reflects community comments from earlier public meetings about the project. 

“We’ve tried to take that feedback and have it help inform our design choices,” said the project’s lead designer, Peter Glus of Arcadis. “And what this is right now is a way of coming back to you and saying, here’s how we heard you.”

A further developed “60% design” is expected to be presented next summer, with construction beginning in fall 2025 and ending in 2028. Go here to view the full presentation materials and here to provide feedback on individual parts of the project.  


An animated "flythrough" of the project's current design concepts. Credit: Battery Park City Authority

Below is a summary of the project in its current design phase, as presented by Glus at the June community meeting.

Renderings by Battery Park City Authority/BPCA; today photos by The Tribeca Trib


In Tribeca, the proposed flood wall would align with the Independence Plaza building at 80 North Moore Street and the North Moore Street side of Borough of Manhattan Community College. Because 80 North Moore is on higher ground, the wall can be relatively low, Peter Glus said. Widening the sidewalk and landscaping that extension is being considered. That project would need to be coordinated with the Department of Transportation, ConEd and the property owners. The flood wall would continue along the east side of West Street until just north of Harrison Street, at which point the barrier system would cross West Street to the Greenway. 



Planners are looking at two options for the Greenway up to Stuyvesant High School. One approach is to have a half-height wall with some type of barrier system that flips into place before a storm hits. Another possibility is to make the upper part of the wall glass, so that pedestrians and cyclists don’t feel like they’re next to a big wall.



Because the esplanade north of the school is an elevated platform, construction on the platform isn’t possible. So designers are proposing to widen the esplanade (they call it The Wave) to increase pedestrian flow and “we’ve also tried to meander this so that we really maximize the opportunity to put plantings and trees and green space in this esplanade area,” Glus said. That plan would include part of Hudson River Park and build into the river, which means “a lot of discussions with Hudson River Park [Trust] about how were going to do that,” as well as working with state regulatory agencies.



Designers are looking to integrate the flood wall into the existing retaining wall, so the flood protection would be at the upper level of the park. That means less visible change to the northern section where the ground is higher, and a higher wall to the south where the elevation is lower.



The wall is proposed to be at the rear of the playground, avoiding impact to several mature trees. The project would be mobilized within the playground, but in stages so that parts of the play area can remain open, Glus said. The wall along River Terrace would be built up from 2 3/4 feet to about 4 3/4 feet.



After an outcry over the proposed destruction of the beloved lily (aka duck) pond,  planners believe it can remain, “effectively as it is,” Glus said. “It will be closed during construction at moments but we’re not modifying it significantly.” Instead, Glus said, a wall will be built between the pond and the Irish Hunger Memorial.


Plans originally called for temporarily moving the ferry terminal in order to accommodate work on flood defenses in the area. But that has changed. “We recognize that movement of that would exacerbate some of the issues [with the ferries] that some of the community is experiencing,” Glus said. Construction will be phased in front of the terminal. The currently proposed alignment would be between 300 Vesey (1 North End Avenue) and the terminal.



The flood wall would go behind the grove of trees in Belvedere Plaza. “We’ve tried to disguise it as best as we can so that it doesn't impact people's experience as they walk in that open space, Glus said.



The current proposed design calls for integrating the wall into the seating area. “We’re looking to use this project as a real opportunity to change how people get around the plaza area by allowing greater access,” Glus said, noting that attempts are being made to minimize the height of the wall and maximize views for people sitting in the Winter Garden or upper level outside the building. 



The walkway between the edge of the North Cove and the park is considered a “pinch point” for pedestrians and planners are working on a design that doesn’t exacerbate the narrowness of the area, Glus said.


A flood wall that aligns with the existing privacy walls outside the Regatta and Hudson Tower is proposed. Building the wall closer to the water would be more difficult because the esplanade is built on a platform. “We’ve heard a lot from the community about situations between cyclists and pedestrians. That seems to be a really big issue here. So by meandering it, we’re promoting more pedestrian flow and we’re trying to move the cyclists away from the meandering path,” Glus said. A gate at the end of Thames Street would close during a storm.



The wall would be aligned along the buildings on the north side of the cove and behind the grove of trees. “There’s been a tremendous amount of focus by the project team on how we can preserve these mature trees,” Glus said. There may be a need for a half-height wall with the upper half being either deployable or transparent, he said.