Game Changers – New York Sandy Flood Recovery

Hurricane Sandy

NEW YORK – “The Game-Changer Competition will play a critical role as we continue to assist those neighborhoods most affected by the devastation of Hurricane Sandy,” said NYCEDC President Seth W. Pinsky. “With this $90 million in federal aid, areas across the City will have important resources at their disposal to develop transformational projects that leverage substantial private investment, allowing them to rebuild and come back more resilient and stronger than ever.”  

Toronto, Calgary, and New York have all experienced flooding in the past year. Just like Thunder Bay. Recovery efforts are at different stages in each community. In New York, the Neighborhood Game-Changer Investment Competition has been announced. This is a New York City initiative to create economic growth in five areas across New York City that were heavily impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Funded through $90 million in Federal aid, as part of the $1.77 billion in Hurricane Sandy recovery initiatives approved by the Federal government in May.

The Game-Changer competition has being launched with a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking respondents to identify transformational projects that will catalyze significant long-term economic growth in the East and South Shores of Staten Island, Southern Manhattan, Southern Brooklyn, the Brooklyn-Queens Waterfront, and South Queens.

It is expected that each of the five impacted areas will be awarded up to $18 million in Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Relief, and more than one award also may be made in each area.

Recovery Continues in New York

The competition aims to identify and fund projects that will leverage private investment for capital-intensive projects, generate economic activity by increasing demand for goods and services, improve accessibility to affected neighborhoods, and expand the customer base for local businesses.  It also aims to support small businesses and create jobs, particularly for low- and moderate-income individuals. Additionally, the competition will seek to foster partnerships among business, public, not-for-profit institutions and community based organizations, and complement community goals. Responses may be submitted by businesses, non-profit organizations or joint ventures made up of multiple entities, with responses to the RFP due on September 9th, 2013.     

“The City has been getting loans and grants out the door to small businesses and building the capacity of organizations in impacted neighborhoods like Red Hook, the South Shore of Staten Island, the Rockaways, and more,” said Rob Walsh, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “The Neighborhood Game-Changer Investment Competition will help commercial corridors impacted by Sandy come back even stronger by encouraging development and investments that will anchor neighborhoods and help small businesses.”  

In May, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Senator Charles E. Schumer, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced the Federal approval of the City’s plan for $1.77 billion in Hurricane Sandy recovery initiatives. The City submitted its Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Action Plan in April, which outlined its proposal to spend the initial Federal aid allocation on programs for housing recovery, business recovery, infrastructure and resiliency. That approval allowed the City to develop its initiatives, including today’s Game-Changer announcement, and extend relief to more New Yorkers in need.    

“This innovative competitive program has the potential to provide a long-term economic recovery for city neighborhoods devastated by Superstorm Sandy,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “With smart investments leveraging private investment for capital-intensive projects, we can harness our full potential to strengthen local communities, empower businesses, and create good-paying jobs right here where we need them the most.”  

As the City’s Action Plan described, entire neighborhoods experienced widespread damage, closure of businesses, and loss of jobs as a result of Hurricane Sandy. The neighborhoods most severely impacted are the East and South Shores of Staten Island, Southern Manhattan, Southern Brooklyn, the Brooklyn-Queens Waterfront, and South Queens. Across these neighborhoods, Sandy’s floodwaters covered an area that included more than 18,000 businesses with more than 200,000 employees, and many experienced damage that has forced them to close on a temporary or permanent basis. Unfortunately, many of these neighborhoods already faced economic challenges, and the sudden increase of vacancies and decreased demand for services due to nearby residential displacement could severely hamper future growth and potentially reverse the revitalization that has occurred in recent years without immediate and meaningful investment in revitalization.    

Through the Neighborhood Game-Changer Investment Competition, NYCEDC will harness the best ideas from public and private individuals and organizations to restore neighborhood vitality and economic strength. It is anticipated that because each neighborhood faces specific challenges, the winning idea or ideas for each neighborhood will be tailored to those needs. Respondents selected by NYCEDC will receive an award of up to $18 million to support their proposed project. It is anticipated that projects funded in connection with the competition would take place on privately-controlled sites within the identified Impact Areas. NYCEDC plans to select multiple respondents on the basis of factors stated in the RFP which include, but are not limited to: the quality of the proposal, the economic impact of the proposed project, job creation that would result from the proposed project, respondent team qualifications and project feasibility. NYCEDC will solicit feedback on proposals from an advisory panel to be convened of local and citywide stakeholders including civic and business leaders and experts in the fields of real estate development, policy, planning, among others. The advisory panel will be selected by a coalition of local elected officials and Mayor Bloomberg. This project has Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise (“M/WBE”) participation goals as well as local hiring goals through the HireNYC program.

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