Press Releases

Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn Launch NYC Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy (Waves) - A Blueprint For New York City's 578 Miles of Waterfront

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn today launched the New York City Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy (WAVES), a citywide initiative that will create a new sustainable blueprint for the City’s 578 miles of shoreline. The WAVES strategy – to be developed over the next nine months – will include two core components: the Vision 2020 – The New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan that will establish long-term goals for the next decade and beyond, and the New York City Waterfront Action Agenda that will set forth priority initiatives to be implemented within three years. Together, the initiatives will provide a blueprint for the City’s waterfront and waterways, and focus on the following categories: open space and recreation, the working waterfront, housing and economic development, natural habitats, climate change adaptation and waterborne transportation. A series of public workshops in all five boroughs to discuss the waterfront strategy will begin this spring. Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn traveled on the NY Waterway ferry to Mill Pond Park near Yankee Stadium in The Bronx to make the announcement, where they were joined by Congressman José E. Serrano, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Council Member Michael Nelson, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert C. Lieber, City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden, New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, New York Secretary of State Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance President and CEO Roland Lewis, and an array of New York City waterfront advocates.

“New York City is known for its unparalleled skyline, beautiful parks, famous bridges and grand boulevards, but it’s 578 miles of waterfront may be its greatest physical asset and certainly the one most important throughout its history,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “After decades of abandonment and neglect, our Administration made it a priority to increase access to and jobs on the waterfront, and from the construction of Barretto Point Park in The Bronx to the expansion of Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island, we’ve made enormous headway over the past eight years. Now, the Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy – or WAVES – we’re launching today will create a new framework that will drive our efforts to restore New York City’s waterfront to a vibrancy not seen in generations.”

“Before the Brooklyn Bridge, before Robert Moses, and before Fiorello La Guardia, New York City’s waterfronts were integral to its bustling blue highways,” said Speaker Quinn. “Hundreds of years later, we are standing on these same shores, launching a long-term collaborative initiative to reclaim our waterfronts and bring them into the 21st century. The City Council is proud to have passed the visionary legislation that requires City government to come up with an effective and responsible waterfronts plan, not once, but every ten years. Through this law, we will never turn our backs on our city’s 578 miles of waterfront.”

Led by the Department of City Planning, Vision 2020: New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan will set forth long-range goals for a 21st century waterfront. It will serve as a guide for future land-use decisions along the City’s shoreline, recognizing the diversity of the waterfront and balancing the needs of environmentally sensitive natural areas, the working waterfront, public access, open space, housing and commercial activity. The plan will also seek to address the City’s “Blue Network” – the waterways themselves – from the expansion of water transport to climate resilience. Vision 2020 is mandated by City Council legislation that requires a waterfront report be submitted to the Mayor, the City Council, the Public Advocate, Borough Presidents, Community Boards and the public at the end of 2010.

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) will lead a complimentary effort to create the New York City Waterfront Action Agenda, a set of high-priority initiatives that can be implemented during the next three years. Priority initiatives could include programs such as piloting the City’s first wetlands mitigation bank to incorporating new ecological designs into the repair and restoration of waterfront infrastructure. For each initiative, the Action Agenda will identify current conditions and desired outcomes, specific steps to achieve goals, benchmarks to measure its success, agency responsibilities and funding sources.

In addition to City, State and Federal agencies, the City has engaged a vast array of waterfront stakeholders to help craft the strategy, including the shipping industry, open space advocates, labor unions, environmental groups, waterfront restoration advocates, and planning organizations. The Mayor was joined at the announcement by Regional Planning Association President Robert D. Yaro, NY Harborway Director Paula Berry, NY Harbor School principal Murray Fisher, Rockefeller Brothers Fund Sustainable Development program director Michael Northrop, Hudson River Foundation Executive Director Clay Hiles, NYNJ Maritime Association Executive Director Ed Kelly, and representatives from the US Army Corps of Engineers.

In addition, the Mayor and Speaker announced plans for a Waterfront Management Advisory Board that will provide a forum for cooperation among City, State, Federal, and civic partners. The board will consist of a range of waterfront stakeholders who will provide expertise to advise on the Comprehensive Waterfront Plan and help shape a successful Action Agenda. Among the other agencies contributing to the plan are the New York City Departments of Buildings, Design and Construction, Emergency Management, Environmental Protection, Fire, Housing Preservation and Development, Parks and Recreation, Police, Small Business Services, Transportation, the Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability, the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the NY Harborway, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Empire State Development, New York Department of State, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the US Coast Guard.

The public can go to to learn more about the plan, submit comments and sign up to receive email updates.

“Developing a new comprehensive waterfront plan is a smart and forward-looking step that will benefit all City residents,” said Congressman Serrano. “From the mouth of the Bronx River to the tip of Staten Island, New York is a city defined by its shoreline. I believe that the City’s future is closely tied to our capacity best use and leverage our waterfront assets. I applaud Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn for moving this important process forward.”

“This comprehensive waterfront plan will be an excellent framework for the continued discussion and advancement of New York City’s maritime issues, which are of the utmost importance to the economic well-being of our city and region,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “This blueprint will reaffirm the City’s commitment to preserving, protecting and investing in our precious maritime and industrial infrastructure, and will build upon the Mayor’s support of the development of a major container port in Sunset Park as envisioned in the City’s ‘1999 Strategic Plan for the Redevelopment for the Port of New York’ . The full realization of Brooklyn’s container capacity is essential for our region’s growth and economic development, and for ensuring that New York remains the preeminent shipping hub on the eastern seaboard.”

“New Yorkers have been blessed with a city that is surrounded by over 500 miles of waterfront property,” said Council Member Nelson. “However, access to this amazing natural resource had been almost impossible until the past two decades when the City issued its first Comprehensive Waterfront Plan transforming the waterfront from an industrial blight to a recreational wonder. Today, I proudly stand with Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg in announcing another bold strategy that will increase the City’s ambitious goals of further redeveloping the waterfront. The Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy will allow us to continue improving our shoreline so that New Yorkers in all five boroughs can take full advantage of this resource.”

“New York City is a global capital with a leading role in finance, fashion, and media, technology, bioscience, and education,” said Deputy Mayor Lieber. “We can also enhance its position as a premier waterfront city by focusing on our surrounding waters to maximize our commercial and economic vitality along with biodiversity, ecological and human health and recreation.”

“We are a City of five boroughs, and four of them are islands. Our waterfront and waterways are a key component of the city's identity and among our greatest resources,” said Commissioner Burden. “This is an exciting opportunity for us engage the public in crafting a comprehensive new vision for a 21st century waterfront. Primary goals are to continue to provide public access to and into the water, to protect significant natural areas and wetlands, to strengthen shipping and maritime activities, to advance waterborne transportation and to raise awareness of the importance of climate resiliency for our coastal areas.”

“Maritime-related commerce – the commerce that made New York City great – does not just remain an important generator of jobs and tax revenue for the City, but also presents an opportunity to relieve congestion and pollution along our crowded highways,” said NYCEDC President Pinsky. “The initiatives that we are already undertaking, including partnering with the Port Authority to grow the City's port facilities, completing a $130 million renovation of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal and signing a lease with a new anchor tenant for the Red Hook Container Terminal, represent an important down payment on our goal of securing a sustainable working waterfront for future generations of New Yorkers.”

“Last December, I was pleased to announce a grant of $475,000 to the Department of City Planning to help fund the City’s new waterfront revitalization strategy,” said Secretary of State Cortés-Vázquez. “The City’s waterfronts are amid a transition, as they are adding more residential, commercial and public areas to complement existing industrial, job-generating uses. As such, we are working with the City to develop waterfront access in places where such access has traditionally been lacking. The Department looks forward to helping the City and its community partners turn this vision for the City’s waterfronts into a reality.”

“New Yorkers are reconnecting to the water that surrounds them as never before,” said Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance President and CEO Roland Lewis. “The hundreds of organizations that champion waterfront education, recreation, transportation, economic development and environment are the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. We pledge to work enthusiastically with the Mayor, City, State and Federal agencies through WAVES to help create the 21st century waterfront and harbor that are as diverse and alive as the City that surrounds it.”

As the City works to address the long-term challenges posed by climate change and storm severity, the WAVES initiatives will seek specific recommendations to face these challenges. WAVES will be consistent with the sustainable vision of PlaNYC and will seek to advance many of its goals, from wetland protection to expanding ferry service to increasing climate resilience. WAVES – which will work alongside ongoing efforts at the Department of Environmental Protection - is intended to enable the City’s waterfront to evolve as a sustainable component and essential resource for a growing city. Recently, the City began a $150 million project to improve water quality in the Gowanus Canal, and reached an agreement with the State to improve water quality and preserve the marshlands of Jamaica Bay. The City is also in the process of completing a long-term, $5 billion upgrade to increase treatment capacity and effectiveness at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The WAVES initiatives will expand on major efforts the Bloomberg Administration has taken to increase access to and jobs on the waterfront. Since 2002, the City has acquired more than 500 acres of land for parks, creating new waterfront parks like West Harlem Piers Park, Barretto Point Park, and Mill Pond Park and advancing other significant open space waterfront projects including Brooklyn Bridge Park, the first phase of which opened last month, Governors Island, Freshkills Park in Staten Island, the Harlem River Park Greenway, and the South Street Waterfront Esplanade in Lower Manhattan. The City has created NYHarborWay, a plan to enhance the identity of nine waterfront sites, improve the physical connections between them and ensure the cohesiveness of their programming, helping New York Harbor to become a major recreational destination for New Yorkers and visitors.

Since 2002, the City has rezoned more than 700 acres of largely vacant or underutilized waterfront land, including: Hunter’s Point South and Willets Point in Queens; Greenpoint/Williamsburg and Coney Island in Brooklyn; Stapleton, Staten Island; and Lower Concourse, The Bronx to create new housing and public waterfront access.

On New York City’s waterways, ferries transport more than 90,000 people daily, kayakers paddle to over 33 recreational destinations, and vessels and barges move 5.3 million containers of goods annually.

New York City’s maritime industry remains strong, sustaining 31,800 direct and indirect jobs and generating $1.3 billion in tax revenue. Recognizing that the waterfront is a significant source of economic activity, the Bloomberg Administration has implemented a series of Working Waterfront projects since 2002, including: the Sunset Park Waterfront Vision Plan, a $270 million investment in the industrial waterfront that will activate 3.5 million square feet of industrial space, create 11,000 jobs, and add 22 acres of open space; the $56 million creation of the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook, Brooklyn; a $250 million capital funding program to improve and modernize the Brooklyn Navy Yard and help its growth as the nation’s leading urban manufacturing district; the relocation of Fulton Fish Market to the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center in the Bronx; the deepening of New York Harbor by 50 feet to enable the passage of Post-panamax containerships; the relocation of Phoenix Beverage to Pier 11 in Red Hook, Brooklyn, eliminating an estimated 20,000 truck trips each year and creating or retaining 600 jobs; and the expansion of the Howland Hook Marine Terminal in Staten Island.


New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City's primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC's mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City's competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City's many opportunities. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, or visit our blog to learn more about NYCEDC projects and initiatives.


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(212) 788-2958 

Rachaele Raynoff
City Planning
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David Lombino/Libby Langsdorf
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