ULI New York Hunts Point TAP (March, 2019)
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With funding from the New York Community Trust, ULI New York held a Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) focused on a waterfront community in New York City vulnerable to climate change. This TAP was held in Hunts Point, Bronx on March 28–29, 2019 in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). Through this work, ULI New York members focused on assessing the viability of hydropower in the Hunts Point neighborhood of the Bronx. To conduct the TAP, the NYCEDC asked ULI to answer questions related to the benefits and feasibility of hydro energy as a form of resilient and sustainable power and consider its relevance to the overall resilience of Hunts Point and its food distribution systems. The study area focused on the Food Distribution Center (FDC)—a network of distribution businesses located on the Hunts Point Peninsula in the Bronx—which is responsible for the distribution of nearly one-half of the food that feeds the City. Bordered by the Bronx River to the north and east, and the East River to the south, Hunts Point is characterized by a large industrial area covering the western half of the peninsula, a compact neighborhood core of approximately 13,000 residents, and the FDC in the eastern section of the peninsula.
Chaired by Shay Alster, Principal at GF55 Architects LLP, the 7-member TAP engaged in two days of hands-on working sessions, kicked off with a briefing and guided tour of the study area led by NYCEDC. The TAP also conducted interviews with stakeholders to get a better understanding of community needs, hydropower technologies, and overall vision for Hunts Point; these interviews helped guide the working sessions. Ending with a final presentation to NYCEDC leadership and staff, the TAP concluded that while hydropower is not yet commercially viable for Hunts Point, there are other promising renewable energy opportunities that NYCEDC could pursue to achieve its goals and further climate resilience, green infrastructure, and high quality of life in the neighborhood. Keeping in mind the high cooling demands of the FDC, the panel’s recommendations centered around geothermal energy as the best suited option that would provide NYCEDC with the greatest potential for effective and resilient alternative energy production at Hunts Point.
Ultimately, the TAP recommended a vision for a Balanced Energy Strategy at Hunts Point. This Balanced Energy Strategy includes:
- an energy audit to identify potential reductions in energy consumption;
- expansion of solar installations;
- leveraging anaerobic digestion as an energy source and perhaps a more robust waste-reduction/recycling solution;
- and the introduction of geothermal power to Hunts Point.
In addition to Alster, panelists included Kate Boicourt, Director of Resilience, Waterfront Alliance; Dennis W. Elsenbeck, Head of Energy and Sustainability Energy Consulting Services, Phillips Lytle, LLP; Venetia Lannon, Vice President, Matrix New World Engineering; Shea Thorvaldsen, Founder, Principal & CEO, TMS Waterfront; Jay Valgora, Founder & Principal, STUDIO V Architecture, PLLC; Neil Webb, Director, Energy Markets & Growth, OBG, Part of Ramboll Group.
ULI New York & ULI Westchester/Fairfield Village of Sleepy Hollow TAP (November, 2017)
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On November 14 and 15, 2017 ULI members from New York and Westchester/Fairfield completed a two-day Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) for the Village of Sleepy Hollow – located on the east side of the Hudson River 25 miles north of New York City – which is experiencing redevelopment activities and pressures that will reshape and impact the community long into the 21st century. Its blue-collar roots and past status as a factory town for General Motors appear evident in its eclectic mix of modest homes, narrow, hilly streets and century-old commercial buildings. It sits in the shadows of the new, $5 billion dollar Hudson River bridge that will bring new traffic and economic development to its streets. In addition, and most importantly, the GM auto manufacturing plant closed in 1996 and is now being redeveloped as a 1,100-unit luxury housing community (Edge-on-Hudson) across the railroad tracks from a low- and moderate-income, largely immigrant neighborhood. In this context, the Village Board of Trustees, led by the mayor, sought the outside advice of the Urban Land Institute.
Chaired by Kim Morque, President at Spinnaker Real Estate Partners, the 8-member panel were tasked with proposing strategies to manage the change emanating from the large housing project and integrate it appropriately into the community, and to revitalize and incentivize development of the Village’s commercial corridor, Beekman Avenue and the housing in the lower income neighborhoods. The panel’s objective was to propose strategies to connect the new housing to the Village and encourage/ incentivize investment in its downtown area that celebrates Sleepy Hollow’s diversity and history while welcoming new residents and not pushing out lower income households.
The TAP process calls for two days of intense study and analysis by the panelists to develop recommendations in response to the proposed scope of work. By the end of the second day, the panel crafted recommendations for addressing the core issues outlined in the scope, building on the Village’s unique history, character and strengths. The panel centered on two strategies as catalysts for development of the study areas, as well as short- and longterm implementation recommendations. Those two strategies are connectivity and placemaking.
In addition to Morque, panelists included Shay Alster, Partner, GF55 Partners; Adam Catherine, Senior Associate, Stantec; Lou Luglio, Vice President, Sam Schwartz Consulting; Joanna Cuevas, Senior Project Manager, Gardiner & Theobald; Andrew Manshel, Principal, Placemaster Projects Advisory Services; Christian Michel, Senior Technical Director- Economic & Real Estate Advisory Services, AKRF; LeAnn Shelton, General Counsel, Rockwell Group.
ULI New York WEDG TAP (August, 2017)
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On August 10, 2017, ULI members from New York, Washington, and Maryland completed a special 1-day Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) Workshop in Manhattan. This ULI New York TAP was made possible through generous grant funding from The New York Community Trust. The Urban Land Institute was awarded a $100,000 grant in July 2016 to raise awareness and encourage the use of resilient building practices in New York City, and to foster a greater understanding among the public and private sector nationwide regarding the many benefits of building for resilience. Through this grant, ULI New York will complete two TAPs in New York City to identify practical approaches to resilience building that help communities be better prepared against rising seas, flooding, and other natural disasters.
ULI New York partnered with Manhattan-based non-profit, Waterfront Alliance, to provide private sector feedback on their Waterfront Edge Design Guidelines (WEDG) program – or what they often call “LEED for the Waterfront”. The Waterfront Alliance asked ULI four key questions in evaluating and recommending incentives for developers and landowners to engage with the WEDG ratings and certification program, surrounding primary incentives, economic benefits of using credit programs, developer engagement, and insurance and risk reduction incentives. WEDG is currently underdoing a revision process, in part to develop a program that is applicable to waterfront development beyond the New York-region.
Chaired by Peter Liebowitz, Vice President at WSP, the 12-person panel provided a series of recommendations and analysis of the program in its current form. The panel team was largely complimentary to the program – Waterfront Alliance has done an excellent job in identifying the need, establishing guiding principles, engaging a broad range of interested parties, and developing consensus within the waterfront community. Below is a summary of the panelists’ recommendations:
- Learn from successful certifications in the marketplace, but don’t try to replicate them.
- The panel recommends that WEDG explore a different pathway to widespread market adoption than LEED and WELL – focusing on its value proposition as a set of design guidelines that can help cities achieve their multiple waterfront design goals, and helping developers align their project proposals to help them get approved more efficiently.
- Recognize the strengths and limitations of WEDG’s current business case, both inside and outside of the New York development environment.
- WEDG has a business case in NYC – and The Waterfront Alliance should work to strengthen it.
- WEDG’s business case in NYC may not translate to other markets.
- Engage the insurance market to improve the business case for WEDG.
- Consider municipalities as a primary target customer for WEDG instead of developers.
- Build demand for the WEDG brand through private sector engagement.
- Build the business case for WEDG through development incentives that will be implemented by municipalities.
- Incentives that reduce the cost of development.
- Incentives that increase the potential revenue from development.
- Time is money – incentives that reduce the length of the approval, permitting and construction process.
- Engage developers on WEDG “early and often” in the development process.
- Drive a sustainable financial and delivery model for WEDG.
In addition to Liebowitz, panelists included Brian Collins, Head of Development, Fisher Brothers; Lisa Craig, Chief of Historic Preservation, City of Annapolis, MD; Jonathan Fair, Executive Vice President, Douglaston Development; Billy Grayson, Executive Director for the Center for Sustainability an Economic Performance, ULI – the Urban Land Institute; Edward LaGrassa, President, Chilton Realty Inc.; Danielle Lombardo, Vice President, Lockton Companies; Adam Meister, Senior Vice President – Development, The Howard Hughes Corporation; Olivia Moss, Principal, HR&A Advisors; Ashely Muse, Architect, Muse Consulting; Spencer Orkus, Director of Development – Affordable Housing, L+M Development Partners; Gerard Romski, Senior Project Executive/General Counsel, Arverne by the Sea; and Matthew Steenhoek, Vice President of Development, PN Hoffman.
ULI New York Gowanus TAP (April, 2017)
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On April 24 and 25, 2017 ULI New York members completed a Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn. This ULI New York TAP was made possible through generous grant funding from The New York Community Trust. The Urban Land Institute was awarded a $100,000 grant in July 2016 to raise awareness and encourage the use of resilient building practices in New York City, and to foster a greater understanding among the public and private sector nationwide regarding the many benefits of building for resilience. Through this grant, ULI New York will complete two TAPs in New York City to identify practical approaches to resilience building that help communities be better prepared against rising seas, flooding, and other natural disasters.
ULI New York partnered with the Brooklyn-based non-profit and advocacy organization, Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC), for this Technical Assistance Panel. As the sponsor, FAC asked ULI New York to answer a series of questions related to urban head island (UHI) mitigation strategies in the context of the anticipated rezoning of Gowanus as well as the anticipated partial closure of Thomas Greene Park due to the CSO retention tank siting related to the Gowanus Canal Superfund site cleanup.
Chaired by James Lima, President of James Lima Planning + Design, the 10-member panel offered a vision for Gowanus that addresses UHI at the District and building scales, as well as develops funding and delivery structures, particularly for UHI-vulnerable populations. The Gowanus community faces numerous environmental and land use challenges – including heavy traffic and a lack of traffic and pedestrian safety, superfund site toxicity, poor air quality, flooding and severe sewage backups, and a lack of parks and open space, among other issues.
The panel acknowledged that the anticipated Gowanus rezoning will likely create greater density in the neighborhood, particularly for residential uses. Taller buildings (increased FAR) prevent streets from cooling at night – which, coupled with increasing temperatures due to climate change, will further intensify UHI and the health and social impacts related to extreme heat. Currently, extreme heat events cause more death annually in the United States than all other natural disaster/extreme weather events combined – and per the New York City Panel on Climate Change, there will be an estimated 500 additional deaths per year by 2050 in NYC. Gowanus has been identified as a neighborhood with a population particularly vulnerable to UHI.
The panel identified several urban heat deserts throughout the study area that included gas stations, warehouse walls, and parking lots – all of which lack vegetative cover. As a mitigation strategy, the panel recommended that strategies are implemented that increase vegetative coverage wherever possible and leverage the network of hidden creeks in Gowanus and the prevailing summer winds to create ‘paths of respite’ throughout the study area These paths are created by enhancing Thomas Greene Park and connecting the park to the canal, opening up the area to prevailing winds for cooling, creating a vegetated connection from Washington Park to the canal and by adding vegetative covering to walls, and adding benches and trees along the 3rd Avenue Corridor. In regards to the temporary closure of a portion of Thomas Greene Park due to the siting of the Superfund cleanup CSO tanks – the panel recommended that a temporary park to be built on the lot adjacent to the park, which is owned by Con Edison.
The panel also offered a series of transit recommendations aimed to improve the efficiency of urban systems, as well as recommendations to significantly increase building efficiency, among others. The TAP report will be released in Fall 2017, which will discuss the panel’s recommendations in further details, as well as strategies to finance and implement these recommendations through a combination of requirements, penalties, and incentives.
In addition to Lima, panelists included Matthew Brian, Executive Vice President of Development, Omni New York LLC; Nancy Choi, Senior Environmental Manager, ARUP; Bret Collazzi, Principal, HR&A Advisors; John Imbiano, Principal and Partner, IQ Landscape Architects, PC; Aviva Laurenti, Deputy Director of Traffic Engineering + Associate, Sam Schwartz Engineering; Matthew Payne, Vice President of Builty Ecology, WSP; Jeffrey Raven, Principal, RAVEN Architecture + Urban Design LLC and Director, Graduate Program in Urban + Regional Design, New York Institute of Technology; Rupal Sanghvi, Founder, HealthxDesign; and Donna Walcavage, Principal of Landscape Architecture, Stantec.
ULI New York University Heights TAP (July, 2014)
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On July 23 and 24, 2014 , ULI New York members completed a Technical Assistance Panel for the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) in the University Heights waterfront section of the Bronx. Chaired by Barry Hersh, Clinical Associate Professor of Real Estate, NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate, the 9-member panel offered recommendations for mixed-use development scenarios for waterfront sites along the Harlem River. The panel saw the University Heights waterfront, with its significant transit resources, as an ideal area for community waterfront recreational activity and high-density mixed-use development, despite limited pedestrian and vehicular access to the waterfront due to the Major Deegan Expressway and the Metro-North Railroad.
Following a tour of the study area and interviews with multiple community stakeholders, the panel put forward a grand vision where the neighborhoods on both sides of the University Heights Bridge – University Heights to east and Inwood and Sherman Creek to the west – are united by the Harlem River as one cohesive and sustainable community. The panel recommended cost-effective strategies to improve pedestrian access along the waterfront, which would be crucial to unlocking the area’s development potential.
In addition to Hersh, panelists included Shay Alster, Partner, GF55 Partners; Michael Beattie, Senior Technical Director, AKRF; Stuart Brodsky, Director, Center for the Sustainable Built Environment, NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate; Leanne Lachman, President, Lachman Associates; Spencer Orkus, Development Director, L+M Development Partners; Jay Valgora, Principal, STUDIO V Architecture; Andrea Wong-Miller, Finance Associate, Civic Builders; and Erik Wood, Project Management, HKS Urban Design Studio
ULI New York Broadway Junction TAP (June, 2014)
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On June 25 and 26, 2014 ULI New York members completed a Technical Assistance Panel for the NYC Department of City Planning in the area known as Broadway Junction, a 20-block study area in Eastern Brooklyn roughly bounded by Fulton Street to the north, Atlantic Avenue to the south, Georgia Avenue to the east, and Havens Place to the west. Chaired by Janice Barnes, Global Discipline Leader, Perkins+ Will, the 11 member panel interviewed several community stakeholders and toured the study area as part of then TAP process.
The panel identified several key assets in the study area and provided recommendations for streetscape and public realm improvements and property assemblage that could be a catalyst for new retail and entertainment development to serve the surrounding communities and the region more broadly. Recognizing the cultural diversity of Broadway Junction’s adjacent neighborhoods, the panel proposed rebranding the area as a destination for cultural and commercial exchange with new economic development and employment opportunities for neighborhood residents.
The panel’s recommendations around property assemblage, zoning, streetscapes, open space, and economic development are intended to complement DCP’s Sustainable Communities East New York study, including its comprehensive planning approach and its extensive public engagement, as well as the ongoing work of community groups such as the Local Development Corporation of East New York. In addition to Barnes, expert panelists included Anne Covell, Consultant, Groton Analytics; Connie Fishman, Senior Vice President, Real Estate, YMCA of Greater New York City; Anne Fletcher, Principal, HOK Architects; Michael Mifsud, Project Executive, Skanska Commercial Engineering; Alison Novak, Vice President, Development, The Hudson Companies; Robert Riggs, Senior Vice President, Community Preservation Corporation; Gary Sorge, Senior Principal, Stantec; Petr Vancura, Structural Engineer, Gilsanz Murray Steficek, LLP; Scott Walsh, Vice President, Forest City Ratner Companies; and Daniel Windsor, Senior Urban Design Associate, Perkins + Will.
ULI New York Supports City’s Resiliency Efforts with Retail Activation Strategies in Far Rockaway
The New York City Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability (OLTPS) partnered with ULI New York in May 2014 to develop retail activation strategies in the Far Rockaway, New York downtown area surrounding Mott Avenue. Recommendations were developed through a ULI New York Technical Assistance Panel, in consultation with local residents and stakeholders.
We encourage you to consider a TAP for your community. If you would like to discuss a potential opportunity, please contact:
Felix Ciampa, Executive Director
Sofia Guerrero, Senior Manager