School of Architecture, Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment

Students: Erica Asinas
Ron Shiffman, Ayse Yonder

Edgemere is  a low-lying coastal neighborhood, situated on the Rockaway Peninsula. Superstorm Sandy in 2012 brought to light the area’s ecological and structural vulnerability, underscored by coastal climate threats. Typical resiliency efforts have included protection measures like seawalls and levees. The City, faced with an affordable housing crisis, has supported the densification of this vulnerable waterfront, which sea level rise projections suggest will be inundated and uninhabitable by 2100. This study explores a more disruptive adaptation alternative: Managed Retreat — the strategic relocation of people and assets out of harm’s way.


Land use and coastal management can deliver a just transition to communities by prioritizing ecological restoration and environmentally sustainable use of abandoned land, ensuring they contribute to thriving ecologies, not extractive economies. When land and local assets are owned and governed by coastal communities, these can facilitate inclusive wealth generation that supports residents through neighborhood transition.


On the Rockaway Peninsula, Edgemere experiences sunny day flooding, and is at heightened risk from sea level rise and storm surges. (source: Regional Planning Association)


Edgemere has suffered from disinvestment at various points in its history, and as a result has a large number of vacant lots. (source: RISE)


Edgemere is home to a low-income population, predominantly african american, living in public housing and using social services. Wealth generation is needed to support managed retreat proposals.


Collective and redistributive land use and coastal management tools, when combined, can provide equitable managed retreat frameworks.