News & Politics

Gowanus Canal Named Superfund Site — Now Comes the Toxic Fallout


Now that the Gowanus Canal was finally, formally named as a Superfund site [] yesterday, there has been a flurry of writing about what the designation will mean for the area. The Times described the designation as a ” blow to the Bloomberg administration, which had proposed a cleanup without such a designation,” saying it would “spook developers leery of the stigma of a Superfund listing.”

So a day later, what’s the fallout? Was the city right to worry about scaring away developers?

One major developer not frightened away is…the city.

The Post reports that “Gowanus Green,” a “predominantly city financed $300 million project to bring 774 units of new housing,” is moving forward despite the Superfund status.

Gowanus Green will offer 70 percent of units as “affordable housing.” But people seeking non-affordable, market-rate condos built next to the toxic waterway might be out of luck. True to Mayor Bloomberg’s fears, Toll Brothers has pulled out of Gowanus, reports the Wall Street Journal. Toll Brothers had planned on building 450 condos, with 70 percent being “market-rate.”

A Toll Brothers spokesperson told the Journal ” It’s unlikely you are going to see development there for many, many, many, many years.”

The City Room Blog is celebrating the Superfund designation by throwing an online art show. It is calling for submissions from readers, as “the canal may be the most photographed, painted, drawn mile of waterfront on the planet (it’s got to be the shortest body of water to have its own dedicated museum).”

Meanwhile, over at the canal’s various Facebook pages, things remain pretty quiet, and the status change seems to be a non-event. Merely saying, “It’s Official!” one Gowanus Facebook page seems
to be treating the Superfund designation like Gowanus resident Linda
Mariano, who told WNYC, “Well, I’ve been living next to a Superfund site since 1974. It just wasn’t nominated. That’s the way I’ve looked at it.”

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