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Two Trees unveils Brooklyn waterfront plan

Two Trees Management has unveiled plans for River Street, a mixed-use development anchored by a waterfront park in North Brooklyn.

Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and James Corner Field Operations, the developer has hailed the masterplan as an “industry-leading resilient design, privately-funded infrastructure and integration of community priorities”

The towers will contain 1,000 apartments

The masterplan includes two BIG-designed mixed-use buildings with 1,000 units of housing, 250 of which will be below-market rate, a new 47,000 s/f YMCA, 30,000 s/f of retail space and 57,000 s/f for office space.

However, the centerpiece of the development is the new waterfront that will emerge from what was once an oil storage complex for Con Edison North First Street Terminal.

In total, the River Street Plan will create 2.9 acres of public open space and another 3.0 acres of protected in-water access.

Combined with the neighboring Domino Park, Two Trees the venture will create more than eight acres above the required amount of accessible waterfront public space along the East River waterfront in Williamsburg.

“Elevating the standard for coastal resiliency in the region, the River Street plan is a breakthrough in urban, resilient development which honors Two Trees’ commitment to cultivating dynamic, community-centered neighborhoods,” said Jed Walentas, principal of Two Trees Management.

“In the wake of Sandy, this project will mitigate the potential impact from future storms while transforming New Yorkers’ relationship with the water through wading, boating, and other waterfront activities.

Building off Domino Park’s success, this project delivers another privately-funded, world-class public space far larger than is required by zoning regulations and offers comprehensive community benefits to the East River waterfront.”

“Our proposal closes one of the last remaining gaps in the continuous transformation of the Williamsburg waterfront into a post-industrial natural habitat. Rather than stopping at the hard edge of the old dock, Metropolitan avenue is split into a pedestrian loop extending all the way into the river, connecting the dots of the concrete caissons to form an urban archipelago of recreative islands while protecting a beach and body of water for water sports and wetlands,” said Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner & Creative Director.

“The radical transformation of Copenhagen’s port into a swimmable extension of the public space that we helped pioneer two decades ago, now seems to be knocking at the door in Williamsburg and the entire East River. The River Loop will be the first of many invitations for New Yorkers to dip their toes in the water.”

Lisa Switkin, Senior Principal at James Corner Field Operations and lead designer of the park, said, “On the heels of the recently passed Living Shorelines Act in the House of Representatives, there is clear support and acknowledgment of the power of nature-based infrastructure to help protect communities and combat climate change.

“Resilient design needs to become the rule, not the exception for coastal development, and our proposal sets a strong example for how climate-conscious design can fuel thriving mixed-use communities, provide extraordinary and safe experiences for engagement with the river, and create opportunities for nature and estuary education.”

Borrowing from models used in places like the Netherlands, the River Street plan will feature berms, breakwaters, marshes and wetlands designed to increase resilience by taking the energy out of storm surges, reducing flooding, providing more room to absorb water and slow down its retreat, reducing erosion risk, and better protecting the local waterfront in the face of habitat loss and climate change.

The plan also includes a new tidal basin capable of holding four million gallons of water that is designed to flood, mitigating damage from receding waters.

Additionally, the development expands the shoreline with various wave breaks, attenuating the impacts from severe storms, sustaining intertidal habitat and creating calmer waters to promote in-water access and nurture habitat.

The new waterfront park will enable the restoration of salt marshes, wetlands, oyster beds and tidal flats, enriching wildlife and habitat while creating protected areas that will enable more in-water engagement and recreational uses and provide ecological education to the community.

The waterfront park features a circular esplanade extending into the East River that promotes access in and around the river, as well as an amphitheater, sandy beach, tidal pools, salt marsh, and a fishing pier.

This ring connects to the park’s breakwaters which provide protection and form a series of nature trails that extend out to the historic concrete caissons.

A boating cove at North 1st Street includes a sandy beach for boat access surrounded by wetlands and is adjacent to a series of community kiosks and a children’s natural play area.

The new YMCA will feature a waterfront aquatic center that will offer subsidized swim lessons for community youth in need.

The site was once home to the No. 6 fuel oil storage complex for Con Edison North First Street Terminal. The above ground fuel oil storage tanks were removed when the terminal was decommissioned. The existing site also includes a number of structures seaward of the bulkhead line that extend to the pierhead line, which are in varying states of repair.

Two Trees recently purchased the 3.5 acre site from Con Edison in an auction for $150 million.

Tom Wright, president and CEO, Regional Plan Association, said, “The River Street project sets a new standard for resiliency in development projects, addressing both flood risk impacts and increased waterfront access. We need to see more of this kind of innovation and forward-thinking along our urban coastlines.”

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