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January 5, 2018

Garvies Point To Spend Millions on Storm Preparation

Garvies Point was featured in a Newsday story about how RXR Realty is preparing their developments for major storms. Read an excerpt of the article below.

By Maura McDermott

Long Island developers are making multimillion-dollar investments to protect new projects — waterfront and inland alike — from rising sea levels and the risk of major storms.

In Glen Cove, RXR Realty said it is raising the ground level of its 56-acre waterfront development, Garvies Point, by 6 to 10 feet. The effort required enough soil, sand and gravel to fill 40 Olympic-sized swimming pools. It also is constructing $15 million steel and reinforced concrete bulkheads along the waterfront, and spending roughly $10 million on stormwater management and $5 million on generators to provide full power to all 569 condominiums if electricity gets knocked out.

These and other steps to make the property storm-resilient will add roughly $40 million to the $1 billion cost of the project, which in addition to the condos includes 541 rental apartments as well as a restaurant, shops, offices and parks, the Uniondale-based developer said.

“In a post-superstorm Sandy Long Island, there is a heightened awareness of where the high-risk flood zones are,” said Kyle Strober, executive director of the Association for a Better Long Island, a builders’ trade group. “The 100-year flood storms are happening every 10 years now, and that means only the very forgetful or the high-stakes gamblers are building on the ground level today.”

EXCEEDING REQUIREMENTS

Under state building codes and local laws, developers are required to protect buildings in high-risk flood zones by constructing strong foundations, elevating buildings and electrical systems and using storm-resistant materials, among other measures. But developers say they are going beyond those requirements.

The builders’ investments come as climate scientists report that sea levels have risen over the last century and are expected to continue rising. A study released last month by the Union of Concerned Scientists examined the U.S. coastline and found that by 2100 nearly 500 communities — including many along Long Island’s South Shore — could face “chronic flooding” so severe that residents could be displaced if communities do not take steps to protect themselves.

Global sea levels have risen by 7 to 8 inches since 1900, a team of scientists wrote in a 673-page draft government report dated June 28, The New York Times reported Monday. Sea levels are “very likely” to rise another 3 to 6 inches by 2030, due mainly to increasing temperatures and melting ice, and the effects could include more floods and major storms, the draft report found.

Some scientists and elected officials debate the extent, severity and causes of the changes.

But on Long Island, major developers and small-scale builders say they are responding to a growing incidence of routine floods, as well as major storms like Sandy.

In RXR’s Glen Cove complex, all residences will be located 18 to 22 feet above the level reached by a so-called 100-year storm — that is, a storm with a 1 percent chance of happening in a given year, the developer said. Even at RXR’s Ritz-Carlton development in North Hills — more than 2 miles from Manhasset Bay — the developer is girding for storms. Two tractor-trailer-sized generators can provide full power to the first 110 condominiums, and another three will be added as the complex grows to 230 units. The generators are expected to cost $3.5 million, said Joe Graziose, senior vice president at RXR.

PROTECTING INVESTMENTS

RXR chief executive Scott Rechler was determined to make the Ritz-Carlton “Sandy-proof,” despite the added cost, since many buyers lived on the North Shore and lost power when Sandy hit, Graziose said.

Developers say their primary concern is protecting their own investments and those of prospective buyers.

“The last person you’re going to talk about being a tree-hugger is me,” Graziose said. “This is all about infrastructure. At the end of the day, you want to build something that’s going to last a long time.”

Protecting new residences from storms “makes good economic and business sense and thoughtful social policy,” Lisa Bova-Hiatt, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, said in a statement.

Research by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows that on Long Island, sea levels have risen by 0.8 to 1.3 feet over the last century, said Nelson Vaz, coastal services team leader for the National Weather Service. A team of 300 experts guided by a 60-member federal advisory committee has concluded that a further rise of 1 to 4 feet in global sea levels is expected by 2100, but the increase in New York could be even greater, Vaz said.

The gradual rise in sea levels will lead to more damaging storms, since floodwaters will reach farther inland, said Jay Tanski, a coastal geologist with the New York Sea Grant program. And that will force more Long Island communities to adapt by elevating roads and buildings above the reach of floodwaters, as Freeport and other municipalities have already begun to do, he said.

On Long Island, developers and public officials alike said the Island already faces more frequent flooding and more needs to be done to protect residents.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) said he has worked with local governments seeking federal grants for storm mitigation and advocated for coastal and wetlands restoration projects that “will use the natural environment to reduce flooding, erosion and storm damage.”

In Long Beach, local officials have secured more than $200 million in state and federal funding to protect the city from flooding, said City Manager Jack Schnirman, a Democrat. City residents “are justifiably afraid,” Schnirman said.

Many builders say they are taking action to allay those fears.

“I’m not going to speak to global warming and things of that nature,” Graziose, 57, said. “[But] we’ve seen more storms in the last 25 years than we did when we were kids, so as a builder we’ve got to address them head on.”

Read the full story here.

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