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The reimagined Pier A Plaza in Battery Park City is designed to be periodically inundated — and to protect the billions of dollars worth of real estate behind it.

The reimagined Pier A Plaza in Battery Park City is designed to be periodically inundated — and to protect the billions of dollars worth of real estate behind it.

Rendering courtesy of the Battery Park City Authority

Behind a Billion-Dollar Bid to Save Lower Manhattan

The Battery Park City Resiliency Project promises to protect some of the most valuable real estate in the US. Can it be a model for urban flood protection?

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New York City was hit with an estimated $19 billion in damages and lost economic activity after Hurricane Sandy struck in 2012. The historic storm displaced thousands of residents from flooded homes, inundated subway tunnels, and left much of Manhattan in darkness. But when B.J. Jones talks about that disaster, he often focuses on a less dramatic storm impact — the storm surge that left the baseball and soccer fields at Battery Park underwater.

Jones, the president and chief executive officer of the Battery Park City Authority, brings up the ballfields to show that, amid the high-rises, there’s a real neighborhood here in this low-lying area at the southern tip of Manhattan, with roughly 16,000 full-time residents and its own Little League. A decade after Sandy, Jones is the head of the state-chartered corporation overseeing the Battery Park City Resiliency Project, a massive effort to reshape the coastline to prevent future catastrophic flooding.