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A Building Boom in New York’s Worst Flood Zones

Long Island City, Queens

Flood Zones

Builders and buyers keep flocking to waterfront neighborhoods, including Long Island City, Queens.

July 13, 2018

People outside of New York City are spooked about living on the water. Since 2012, the year of Hurricane Sandy, the premium on waterfront property has fallen by a third nationwide, from 54 percent to 36 percent, according to a new report released by the online real estate database Zillow. The report attributes the price plunge to a widespread fear of “catastrophic hurricanes, climate change” and “people’s changing tastes.” 

New Yorkers apparently didn’t get the memo. Rather than retreating from flood-prone neighborhoods after Hurricane Sandy, some developers are wading deeper into waterfront markets, especially in Queens and Brooklyn, the New York Times reports

Waterfront building has continued apace since Hurricane Sandy, and it could soon accelerate. As of January, there were roughly 12,350 new apartments under construction or planned in the city’s worst flood zones, according to, a real-estate data website. That means 12.4 percent – or roughly one in eight new apartments – will be built in a high-risk flood zone, up from 10.7 percent in 2014, said Tal Rubin, the company’s vice president of research. And last year, 2,362 flood-zone units were completed – nearly double the number delivered in 2014, she said. Areas with the most intense construction activity include Red Hook, Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Gravesend, Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn, and Long Island City and Belle Harbor in Queens

“I think we have short-term memory,” says Patrick Smith, an agent with Stribling & Associates who lives and works in Long Island City. “Homebuyers still ask about the flood zone, but it hasn’t stopped anyone from buying.”

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