Flood zones impacted by Sandy see construction boom, study finds

Superstorm Sandy has not dampened New Yorkers’ appetite for coastal property, a new study shows.

Despite being inundated by the storm, the Financial District, Red Hook and the Rockaway Peninsula all have seen home prices jump and new buildings rise in flood zones over the past five years, according to a report StreetEasy released Wednesday.

“There were over 90,000 buildings in flood zones when Sandy hit,” StreetEasy senior economist Grant Long noted in the report. “In the immediate aftermath of the storm, there were serious discussions over storm surge barriers and other methods to best protect the city from future storms. Five years later, few of those plans have materialized, and we are stockpiling those very same flood zones with even more homes.”

After Sandy hit, the city revised its building codes to reflect requirements that new buildings place utilities on higher floors, rather than in basements, and that buildings have access to an alternative power source in case the grid fails.

Joe Soldevere, a spokesman for the city Department of Buildings, said the department ensures that all new buildings meet these provisions. Older buildings that undertake major renovations must also abide by the new rules, but the department does not have the power to compel other existing buildings to adopt these storm protection measures.

“We can’t make you go out and retrofit your building, but what we can do is require that you adhere to the new laws if you are doing any big projects,” Soldevere said.

Another city spokesman, Seth Stein, argued the city has made strides in larger resiliency projects.

“We are safer now than we were before Hurricane Sandy thanks to new coastal defenses and infrastructure upgrades, and we are moving with every urgency to continue delivering more projects as part of the city’s over $20 billion resiliency program,” Stein said in a statement.

Questions about progress aside, Sandy’s impact does not appear to be giving developers — or New Yorkers — much pause.

Nine new projects have broken ground in the Financial District’s flood zone since Sandy struck, according to StreetEasy. During that period, the median home sale price surged past $2 million for the first time, and remains more than $1.5 million, according to the report.

In Red Hook, 27 new residential buildings have risen since the storm, all but two of which are in a flood zone, StreetEasy found. While the number of homes available for sale and for rent has grown, so have prices, with median sales nearly doubling from $790,000 in 2013 to $1.545 million in 2017, according to the report.

The Rockaway market has not grown as rapidly. Several area homes have been put on the market since the storm, a possible sign that owners want to unload vulnerable property, and sales prices in the peninsula did not return to pre-Sandy levels until last year, according to StreetEasy.

But sluggish sales haven’t stopped development. StreetEasy noted that 87 new residential developments have been built on the peninsula since Sandy hit.

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