HUGE Development Planned For East Riverfront

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A national developer plans to build five blocks’ worth of apartments, town houses and small-scale retail on Detroit’s east riverfront, one of the …

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Why Snyder Changed His Mind About Detroit Bankruptcy

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Gov. Rick Snyder approved plans for the city of Detroit to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy on Thursday, calling it the “only reasonable alternative” for…

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Dan Gilbert: Buying A JAIL?

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Rock Ventures LLC, a unit of Dan Gilbert’s business empire, will offer today to buy the unfinished Wayne County Jail at Gratiot and Madison, as well t…

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LOOK: This Is Our Summer Dream Home

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Jaw-dropping contemporary design. A yard that slopes gently to a lake. An infinity pool, too, because why not. Fireplaces: yes, plural. Enormous windo…

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This Would Be An INCREDIBLE Downtown Building To Own

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$3 million doesn’t usually sound like a deal, but the newly for sale Michigan Building, with a perfect location in downtown Detroit and incredible his…

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Ilitch Poised To Develop Entertainment District

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Detroit — There’s a good chance much of the $200 million of development intended to be built around the new home of the Detroit Red Wings could end u…

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WATCH: $1,000 Can Get You WHAT?

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We’re seriously thinking of relocating anywhere but NYC.

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Manufacturing 2.0 Takes Off In The Motor City

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A high-end boutique with an in-house juice bar might seem like a surprising fit for Detroit — even a risky venture. But people came out in droves las…

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Build a Wall!

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May 14, 2013 — Bay Head, N.J.

As long as kids have gone to the
beach they’ve built sand castles, and I suspect they always will. And for every
sand castle built most eventually end up with a wall of sand in front of them.
The tide always rises and every kid, seeing his prized creation threatened by
the oncoming waves, thinks the same thing: “Build a wall!”

In Bay Head, N.J. that simple
childhood instinct is alive and well, post-superstorm Sandy. A group of about
20 beachfront homeowners are, on their own nickel, building a “revetment wall.”
It will sit on the beach between the ocean and their homes, a big bit of
industry that starts with digging down about 20 feet, then filling the hole
with 6,000 pound stones trucked in from nearby quarries. Those massive stones
are then covered with more sand. The idea is to break the wave action kicked up
by a storm and provide a last line of defense with a barrier that, the
homeowners hope, won’t wash away.

(Picture: A drawing of a typical beach revetment wall, showing the large rocks below and above grade, the top-covering of sand, and the slope of the wall, which is designed to break the wave energy.)

There’s pretty good evidence this
system can work. Bay Head built another revetment wall about 50 years ago and
even though it was covered in sand, invisible and mostly forgotten by local
residents when Sandy hit the homes standing behind this wall were mostly spared
during the storm. Hence the desire by those living just south of the old wall
to build a new one.


Once the revetment wall is built homeowners lose most of their water
views. But as one homeowner said “I prefer the view of my house still
being here after a storm.”)

But the idea is not without
controversy. Twenty-foot rock walls buried beneath the sand are not natural
elements on a beach. And the wall won’t stretch the length of the beach.
Someone’s home will always be adjacent to where the wall ends, and therefore
subject to what the engineers call “end action” – an ominous term no matter how
you parse it. Oh, and those nickels the homeowners are spending themselves,
well, there will be plenty of them. This little wall is reported to cost $2.2
million, and there are only so many kids with buckets that big.

Revetment 4

(Picture: Revetment walls are alot of work and money. This wall is reported to cost over $2 million.)

When I walk the beach in the early
morning I rarely see yesterday’s sand castles still standing; it seems the
waves always win out. But for my money (and, of course, it’s not my money) I say
let them build the walls. And let them try other ideas like beach
replenishment, planting dune grass, raising houses and whatever else they can
think of. The houses and people along the Jersey shore aren’t leaving, so it
might be time for a few more walls.

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