STANDING on the roof of the Edge, a luxury waterfront condominium project under construction in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, you can’t help but be taken in by the grand sweep of the Manhattan skyline.
New York City Economic Development Corporation
An aerial rendering of a proposed development at Hunters Point in Queens.
But what Jeffrey E. Levine, the developer whose company is building the Edge, sees when he looks to the north are vast swaths of undeveloped land stretching along the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront.
“It is a great opportunity to buy land and warehouse it for development,” said Mr. Levine, the president of Levine Builders, which operates Douglaston Development, builder of the Edge.
Many other major developers, real estate lawyers and city officials are thinking along similar lines. Even with new construction slowed by a troubled financing environment, the groundwork is being laid for the next great phase of waterfront development in the city.
The Bloomberg administration recently unveiled a draft of a comprehensive waterfront plan, known as Vision 2020, that includes more than 500 prospective projects costing tens of millions of dollars. These range from efforts to increase access to the water for kayakers and canoeists, to measures to protect against rising sea levels resulting from climate change.
“Vision 2020 is a blueprint for the next 10 years and beyond that will change the way New Yorkers live for generations to come,” Amanda Burden, the director of the Department of City Planning, said in October at a public hearing on the report’s recommendations. She said that the goal was for the water to become the “sixth borough.”
“The water should become a part of our everyday lives,” Ms. Burden declared.
After years of aggressive rezoning and more than a decade of environmental cleanup, sizable tracts of land along nearly 600 miles of waterfront in all five boroughs are positioned for development. And despite persistent uncertainty in the real estate market, the dozen or more large-scale residential projects that are soon to begin construction, are under way or were recently completed across the city will provide the foundation for that next phase of building.
That being said, even with the groundwork laid out more clearly than at any time in recent years, a casual reading of the history of development in the city reminds us that the grand plans of today have a way of falling apart if public support, municipal needs and private profit cannot be made to converge.