Community Partner THE POINT CDC Applauds Design Team and Hunts Point Stakeholders

THE BRONX, NY—A proposal to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rebuild By Design Competition submitted by the University of Pennsylvania School of Design and OLIN and supported by THE POINT CDC has been selected to receive $20 million in grant funding for the project’s planning and implementation.  These funds will be administered by the City of New York.

Hunts Point | Lifelines is one of six selected entries of the more than year-long competition, a 2013 initiative of President Barack Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Task Force, which brought designers, academics, policymakers and communities together to envision rebuilding strategies that would ensure a more resilient future for the coastal areas affected by the superstorm. PennDesign, OLIN, and THE POINT combined their strengths in research, design, landscape architecture, engagement, construction, and environmental justice advocacy to create an integrated flood protection plan for Hunts Point, a one square mile peninsula in New York City.

The multi-disciplinary team led by PennDesign and OLIN was initially selected as one of ten finalists invited to develop a proposal addressing storm resiliency in The Bronx. Home to New York City’s Food Distribution Center (FDC), Hunts Point is a major economic hub, creating over 25,000 jobs and $5 billion in annual direct economic activity. The peninsula’s wholesale produce, fish and meat markets are also a key link in the regional food chain, feeding more than 22 million people in the tri-state area.

“This award reinforces the critical importance of Hunts Point to the region since even short disruptions to the FDC’s operations caused by a storm event could be catastrophic,” stated Kellie Terry, Executive Director of THE POINT.

The PennDesign/OLIN team sought to emphasize living wage jobs and the region’s food supply as critical resilience infrastructure.  “Hunts Point is a great place to solve the human problem of resilience–to stimulate a culture shift and a new way of looking at working waterfront and their communities,” explained PennDesign lecturer Ellen Neises. “Lifelines incorporates businesses and the community into the construction, maintenance, and research design of a project that builds on the special character and capacity of the place–ensuring that the value of resilience investments is felt every day and that New York’s waterfront works.  This money puts Hunts Point on the map of places that people are focused on.”

The PennDesign/OLIN team envisions a series of strategies dubbed “lifelines” to protect and revitalize the Hunts Point community and the wholesale markets that drive the local economy. The proposal includes a flood protection levee lab to keep the peninsula dry while opening access to a waterfront greenway, as well as a micro grid and new energy generation to keep the Food Distribution Center operational even if the power grid fails. The team also proposed new pier infrastructure that supports a federal plan to create marine highways and improve the East Coast’s disaster preparedness. The team looked to ensure the long term health of the region by generating living wage jobs in construction, maintenance, and research to benefit the local economy.

“By having a broad and open conversation about what resiliency means for Hunts Point,” OLIN partner Richard Roark explained, “we realized our design needed to do more than just flood protection. It had to become a catalytic opportunity for a whole host of things relating to long term sustainability for both the peninsula and the region.”

Hunts Point | Lifelines was forged from strong community partnerships, with THE POINT acting as convener and organizer for the varied interests in the Hunts Point peninsula. The team was able to engage community stakeholders, organized labor, and business owners to inform ideas for integrated storm protection and green infrastructure. Taken together, these designs formed a palette featuring high quality social space, restored habitat and clean water to benefit the long term sustainability for both the peninsula and the region.

Hunts Point | Lifelines will achieve regional significance by demonstrating the productivity and vitality of a protected working waterfront that is integrated with dynamic public use, new habitat, and local livelihoods. Although the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center is a unique civic asset and essential piece of public infrastructure, the PennDesign/OLIN focus on jobs, quality of life, and local ecology has wide applicability in other floodplain industrial communities.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to leverage the many years of advocacy and work the Hunts Point community has undertaken to create a more resilient and more just community,” Terry stated. “We thank everyone–our community parents, elected officials, organized labor, and businesses for adding their time and expertise to this initiative. We look forward to continuing our work with everyone to see this vision through in concert with the community.”

In addition to THE POINT, the PennDesign/OLIN design team includes: PennDesign, OLIN, HR&A Advisors, eDesign Dynamics, Level Infrastructure, Barretto Bay Strategies, McLaren Engineering Group, Philip Habib & Associates, and Buro Happold.

Statements from Hunts Point community stakeholders:

“Resilient power for the wholesale markets is one of our most pressing infrastructure needs.  We are gratified that HUD has seen fit to fund our Rebuild By Design proposal so that we can advance this crucial initiative.”–Bruce Reingold, General Manager, Hunts Point Cooperative Market

“In a community that has been designated a food desert, it is vital to integrate food justice into the fabric of any plans for the future of our community.  I congratulate the Hunts Point Life Lines team for creating a plan that addresses the real needs of our community such as creating access of the fresh, affordable food. I look forward to being a part of this project as it moves forward.”– Tanya Fields, Executive Director, The Blk Projek

International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 202 was thrilled to take part in the planning process for Hunts Point’s Rebuild By Design application and we are excited to continue this crucial work as the project unfolds.  We are confident that through our joint efforts we will help preserve living wage jobs in Hunts Point for decades to come.” –Danny Kane, President, Local 202 IBT

“I was so pleased to see federal funding flowing to the Rebuild by Design team in Hunts Point and was glad to have played a role in making it happen.  The team successfully made the case that the key infrastructure in the Hunts Point Peninsula, including the various food markets, cannot be left unprotected in the face of the next major storm. They argued that we cannot wait until this area suffers damage to make the necessary changes in order to make it safe. I was glad to be part of the team advocating for this and look forward to working to ensure the plan they develop gets all the necessary resources moving forward.” –Rep. Jose E. Serrano  

“I am thrilled to learn of HUD’s award to $20 million towards Hunts Point’s resiliency plan. This is a significant statement not just about the crucial importance of our food distribution infrastructure to the region. It is also a commentary about the superbly organized and newly unified community in Hunts Point– from labor, to community organizations, to the business community.  I commend them all for their spirit of unity and the success of their joint efforts.” –Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

I am excited to hear that Hunts Point’s Life Lines project has been selected as one of the Rebuild By Design winners. I congratulate the vast team of people behind this project and look forward to continuing to fight to make the Hunts Point community prepared for the many challenges climate change will present. We are a resource rich and resilient community that will leverage this investment to ensure full implementation and create a better quality of life not only for our community, but for the region.”—NYS Assemblyman Marcos Crespo

​“The Board and Management of the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative Association, Inc. are delighted with the award of $20 million to put in place a resiliency plan to protect the food that is distributed to 22 million Americans each day.  Energy resiliency is among the top priorities of the Market and we are thrilled that it is a key element of the Hunts Point plan.”–Myra Gordon, Executive Director, the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative Association, Inc.

“UFCW was thrilled to learn of the award for Hunts Point’s Rebuild By Design proposal.  We look forward to working hand in hand with the design team as the project advances and strongly believe that this project will help preserve living wage jobs in the peninsula for generations to come.” —Ed Lynch, Special Assistant to the Regional Director, United Food and Commercial Workers 

“Community Board #2 applauds the community groups, labor locals, businesses, architects, planners, and designers for their successful efforts in securing Rebuild by Design funding for Hunts Point. We are excited to work with team as this project unfolds.” —Rafael Salamanca, District Manager, Community Board 2. 

“For decades, the Hunts Point Community has been subject to disproportionate environmental burdens and a lack of the equitable access to the resources to the resources required to address them. The New York City Environmental Justice Alliance and our member organizations such as THE POINT CDC have been working to promote climate adaptation and resiliency in Hunts Point and other industrial Waterfront Justice Project Campaign – as well as in our work with The Sandy Regional Assembly. Through Hunts Point Lifelines The Penn Design/OLIN Team in partnership with our South Bronx Allies have successfully created a planning framework to address issues of equity in its approach to reduce neighborhood vulnerability.” —Eddie Bautista, Executive Director, the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance

The Hunts Point Lifelines proposal put the community upfront in all its planning and design efforts.  In other places, the community is an after-thought or a gloss applied after plans are finalized.  Hunts Point is different; this process was refreshing and a model for others around the globe.”  —Wanda Salaman, Executive Director, Mothers on the Move

We are delighted to see this vital and visionary project get the recognition and support it deserves. Protecting and enhancing the resilience of the Hunts Point Market, while building on the strengths of the community infrastructure as well, is a wise investment.” –Linda Cox, Executive Director, Bronx River Alliance

“As the only community organization headquartered on the banks of the Bronx River in Hunts Point, with a mission to use the waterways of the Bronx as resources to educate and empower young people, Rocking the Boat is thrilled to know that HUD has awarded a Rebuild by Design grant to the Hunts Point community.” –Adam Green, Executive Director, Rocking the Boat  

“We applaud the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Secretary Shaun Donovan for the $20 million investment for furthering the planning and study of resiliency efforts on the Hunts Point Peninsula. The waterfront community that serves as the regional food center and is home to thousands deserves a plan that protects its residents, its resources and the region’s food system from future climate events. The Hunts Point Lifelines Plan, developed by the PennDesign/OLIN team, leveraged the strengths of the Hunts Point community by highlighting existing community efforts, encouraging locally driven solutions to resilience and creating cohesion amongst stakeholders.” –Angela Tovar, Deputy Director, Sustainable South Bronx

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