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.