What to Expect: Most Up-to-Date Plans for Giant BPC Flood Protection Project

Rendering of a section of the south neighborhood, with installation of an 8.5-foot flood wall at left and more plantings to the west of a newly curved pedestrian path. Turner, Kruz, Arcadis, Scape, BIG, and WSP

Jun. 25, 2024

Design plans for the mammoth five-year project to flood-protect Battery Park City—and part of Tribeca—are now largely set. At a public meeting on June 20, The Battery Park City Authority released its most complete picture yet of what the neighborhood can expect as part of the North/West Battery Park City Resiliency Project

That project will change the look and pedestrian experience of the western edge of the neighborhood, from South Cove to the north end of Rockefeller Park. It is expected to begin next spring, after reconstruction of Wagner Park is complete, and continue in stages over the next five years, beginning with the south neighborhood, Brookfield Place, and the area around the north esplanade, West Street and Tribeca. 

Planning is said to have reached its “60 percent” stage of completion and there are still engineering hurdles ahead, as well as permits to be granted from a slew of regulatory agencies, said Gwen Dawson, the authority’s vice president for design and construction. But the biggest new challenge, announced for the first time, is the need for a mostly underground pump in the plaza east of Stuyvesant High School. It had been thought that temporary pumps could be brought in to handle interior storm water drainage, but computer modeling showed otherwise, Dawson told the Trib in an interview. That means an unanticipated expense in the “many scores of millions of dollars,” she said.

“It requires a permanent pump station to be constructed to get rid of water,” she said, “so that we don’t wind up with any ponding over a foot as a result of storms.”

Dawson said the authority and its team of contractors are looking to complete the project “as quickly as possible, with as little disruption as possible.” The goal, she said, is to minimize the years of impacts to the neighborhood, keep escalating costs down, and head off the next potentially damaging storm.

“You know, every time June 1st rolls around, it’s the beginning of another hurricane season,” she said. “And we’re all sort of sitting on egg shells hoping that we don’t have another Superstorm Sandy, or something worse.”

Here are some of the highlights from the most recent update on the North/West Battery Park City Resiliency Project, based on the Trib’s interview with Gwen Dawson.


The flood barrier system, from 9.5- to about 2-feet-high, will “hug” the structures on North Moore Street, including Independence Plaza’s 80 North Moore “so that it gives the appearance of being part of the same structure,” Dawson said. Deployable gates will flip up in front of the entrance to 80 North Moore Street in expectation of a major storm. How people will get in and out of the building during that time is yet to be determined, Dawson said. Because the barrier will take up some room along the sidewalk, the planners want to narrow the street in places (losing “a few” parking spaces) and create “a nice band of green landscaping.” To make that possible, Department of Transportation approval is being requested.



As part of the barrier system in this area, it is proposed to extend the esplanade 6 feet north to provide additional circulation as well as wave attenuation. Dawson said the BPCA is “several months” away from getting the necessary permits for the structure. That includes permission from the Hudson River Park Trust because the extension would occupy a portion of the park’s river sanctuary. “We’re creating a little curved area at the corner to soften that connection between Hudson River Park and Battery Park City,” she said.



Dawson said it is now certain that a flood barrier system can be created along the park with minimal impact to the park itself. (“We thought earlier that we might have to excavate and regrade the park a little bit, but we’ve determined through our design team’s analysis that we don’t really need to do that.”)  A wall along the eastern perimeter of the park will be largely hidden by landscaping at some points and rise to about four-and-a-half feet along the eastern edge of the playground. 


The playground will be dismantled during construction. When it will be reopened is “a little fuzzy now,” Dawson said. But according to current estimates, the area will be out of commission for at least two years, beginning with the anticipated start of the Rockefeller Park construction in spring 2025.


This phase of construction is the most complex and difficult, Dawson said, “because of not only everything that’s happening at the surface level, which is a lot, but everything that’s going on underneath,” including the two PATH tunnels, pilings, and the flowing river, to name a few. Completion of that part of the project is expected to take the full five years of the overall construction. The aerial rendering above shows the path of the barrier alignment as it comes around 300 Vesey Street and continues just outside the dining terrace near P.J. Clark’s, then south to Pumphouse Park.


The designers discovered they have to shift the barrier more to the east to avoid conflicts with below-grade infrastructure, Dawson said. That requires “shaving off a little bit” of the eastern edge of the park. That change, she said, is seen as a chance to make the park more accessible from the esplanade. The designers are offering two options (above) for how they might treat that western edge of the park.


Where there will be barriers at the ends of streets, next to the south esplanade, Dawson said, designers have worked to keep the openings between street and esplanade as open as possible for pedestrian circulation and sight lines. The rendering above is a concept for the end of Rector Place.


“We have reimagined the pergola a little bit” in cooperation with the South Cove’s designer, Mary Miss, Dawson said. She noted that the structure, at the northwest corner of South Cove, will no longer be free-standing but will be incorporated into a larger design element, with “the same sort of feel” as the original structure.