If the city rebuilds the waterfronts, will New York buyers come?
That is a question being mulled over by city brokers and builders after Sandy slid houses from foundations and sent floodwaters rushing into waterfront property around the boroughs.
Many New Yorkers are still unable to sleep in their homes, with a slew destroyed in the storm and hundreds more damaged and slated for bulldozing by the city.
Waterfront recovery will also be the topic at a Municipal Art Society event next week, where Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, assigned by President Barack Obama to oversee recovery here, will speak.
One thing real estate experts agree on is that flooding will add to the list of concerns investigated by New York browsers, alongside bedbugs, views and square footage.
Doug Perlson, CEO and founder of RealDirect, said two separate buyers recently looking in the Financial District added a new specification: no apartments in Zone A, which was evacuated. One specifically sent a map of the evacuation zone, he said.
"I think that's the knee-jerk reaction," he said.
In the Rockaways, he added, people who rented from his father fled "and have no intention of coming back," he said.
"He's seeing a lot of renters say, 'It's not worth it.'"
But that is certainly not the case for everyone, especially those with decades in the same area. "I think there's a tremendous loyalty to the neighborhood," he said.
But skittishness might not translate into ghost-town waterfronts.
Gary Malin, president of Citi Habitats, said the pull of the water would never be trumped by safety concerns.
"The views are something people crave," he said. "It's in unlimited supply, and very serene, and people love that."
Harold Kobner, associate broker at Argo Residential real estate, agreed, "This was a bump in the road."
Buyers that want the water know it carries risks, he said.
Discuss the water
At the Municipal Art Society, their Road to Resilience series focuses on waterfronts next week. The event, “Sink or Swim: Principles and Priorities for Waterfront Restoration in a Post-Sandy Era,” hones in on how to make long-term investments in infrastructure that also assess the rising sea level.
The keynote speaker will be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, assigned by President Barack Obama to oversee recovery here.
The program is free, but register at mas.org.