Downtown Mount Vernon to be removed from 100-year floodplain

Friday, August 02, 2019

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MOUNT VERNON -- Downtown Mount Vernon is set to be removed from FEMA’s 100-year floodplain in October, setting the stage for economic growth in the historic district.

The $31 million, 1.7-mile long floodwall project has been in development for about a decade, with funding drawn from city, state, federal and other local sources.

With downtown removed from the 100-year flood threat, property and business owners will qualify for flood insurance rate reductions. Development is also likely to be more affordable with the removal of flood protection standards.

“It’s been a long time coming for downtown businesses,” said Mount Vernon Downtown Association Executive Director Ellen Gamson. “All of this work will soon come to fruition. We are delighted FEMA has teed the new designation up for final approval.”

The 100-year floodplain refers to a rare severe flood occurring about once every 100 years. Now that the floodwall has been completed, the entire shopping and dining district of downtown Mount Vernon is safe from that threat.

The new designation is currently in a public comment period. If no valid appeals are received, the new designation will take effect Oct. 25.

Peter Donovan, Mount Vernon project development manager, said the city is already seeing interest from developers with the new floodplain designation imminent.

“We are already in talks with developers about opportunities,” Donovan said.

The floodwall is the centerpiece of the city’s Downtown Master Plan.

With the floodwall complete, the next steps include riverfront development, such as a boutique hotel or condos. A parking garage is also in the works.

“This FEMA designation is key to further development in downtown Mount Vernon,” said EDASC CEO John Sternlicht. “The city has worked hard to mitigate the risk for investors and businesses, making development much more likely.”

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