Fort Tilden East and Riis Landing Concept Development Plan

Queens, NY

The last decade has seen a dramatic increase in the number of visitors to the Rockaways. Home to New York City’s only two surf beaches and boasting tranquil fishing spots, quirky independent boutiques, regular live music events and a vibrant food scene, the area is now a hugely popular day trip destination for urbanites looking to enjoy a slice of laid-back beach life.

While this renaissance was underway prior to Hurricane Sandy, City and National Park Service investment in the area since the storm has further accelerated the tide of people heading to the area. As well as enjoying the newly rebuilt Rockaway Boardwalk and replenished beach, these visitors are keen to explore the art and history of nearby Fort Tilden and the expansive coastline around Riis Park.


Because the surge in visitor numbers to the Rockaways has been so rapid, the area is struggling to keep up with demand at peak times. To extend the offering and open up more of this popular peninsula, Buro Happold has been enlisted to prepare a Concept Development Plan for Fort Tilden and Riis Landing.

Glamping tent at Fort Tilden, lit up yellow against the dark evening sky
Buro Happold is creating a Concept Development plan that will enhance the experience for people looking to get away from it all in the Rockaways. Image: Buro Happold


Our multidisciplinary team undertook detailed market analysis to understand the development potential of these areas. As part of our adaptive reuse planning, we examined various funding models to ascertain which would work best for these areas, as well as taking into account the needs of stakeholders. This work enabled us to create two public solicitations on behalf of the National Park Service, and curate a relevant consortium of respondents for each.

Cozy seating area at Fort Tilden by night, lit by string lights between trees above
Our work will open up the potential for development at Fort Tilden and Riis Landing. Image: Buro Happold


The feedback we receive from these solicitations will shape our final Concept Development Plan. We will use the information to put together informed recommendations for the provision of daytime visitor services, recreation activities and overnight accommodation, as well as suggestions for the adaptive reuse of historic structures and mobility improvements that will meet the needs of growing visitor numbers. These insights will enable the National Park Service to enhance the Rockaways experience by establishing Fort Tilden and Riis Landing as new destinations for the people of New York City to enjoy.

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