The long-awaited cleanup of the Gowanus Canal officially has a start date. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday issued an administrative order requiring the start of the first phase of the project, 10 years after the agency declared it a Superfund site. Expected to begin in September and take 30 months to complete, the $125 million project covers the cleanup of the upper canal and the 1st Street turning basin and involves “full-scale dredging,” according to the agency.
Since taking office, Donald Trump and his administration have been proposing cuts to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that would decrease funding for the cleanup of the Gowanus Canal. Declared a federal Superfund site in 2010, the Canal has a major issue with combined sewer overflow (CSO), which occurs when heavy rainfall overtaxes the sewer system and causes stormwater runoff and wastewater to empty into the waterway. As Brooklyn Eagle reports, the city’s proposal to mitigate this issue was to “replace two [CSO] retention tanks holding 8 and 4 million gallons with a 16 million-gallon CSO tunnel running beneath the upper portion of the canal.” However, in a letter obtained by the Eagle, Trump EPA appointee Pete Lopez said that they would instead install two large retention tanks along the Canal walls.
The Salt Lot is a triangular piece of land just south of the point at which all three branches of the Gowanus Canal meet. The city-owned site hosts a NYC Compost Project facility, as well as the Gowanus Canal Conservancy’s nursery and educational facilities. However, the EPA has mandated a new four-million-gallon retention tank be placed there to manage combined sewer overflow. Gowanus by Design (GbD) saw this new infrastructure requirement as a catalyst for sparking conversation about much needed public urban space in the area. They’ve therefore created a conceptual proposal for the Gowanus Salt Lot Public Park, which includes three buildings constructed with materials that reference the Canal’s industrial history, along with sloping hills and wetlands.
Rendering courtesy of SCAPE Landscape Architecture
The Gowanus Canal Conservancy (GCC) has announced the launch of Gowanus Lowlands, a new comprehensive vision for the transformation of Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood and a ‘blueprint for NYC’s next great park.’ As 6sqft has previously reported, between developers eyeing the pricey parcel of southwest Brooklyn land as Paris on the Gowanus and the city’s ambitions to transform the long-embattled area into “Little Venice,” all eyes have been on the neighborhood and the once-toxic, steadily improving Superfund canal that anchors it. With an important rezoning on the horizon–the process kicked off last October with meetings to gauge community opinion–passions are running high. The conservancy has identified SCAPE landscape architecture studio to guide the Lowlands vision toward reality.
363 Bond Street, via Lightstone Group
When the Lightstone Group revealed their two-building, 700-unit, $350 million rental project at 363-365 Bond Street, right on the banks of the notoriously toxic Gowanus Canal, president Mitchell Hochberg said it was inspired by a residential project in the Canal Saint-Martin neighborhood in Paris that helped create a “newly hip atmosphere” near a similarly polluted waterway. Despite the area’s Superfund status, the promise of living in a trendy, up-and-coming area surely appealed to many; when the lottery opened for the 86 affordable units at #365, nearly 60,000 people applied. Now, the lottery is opening for the 54 below-market rate apartments at the under-construction #363, ranging from $833/month studios to $1,082/two-bedrooms, available to those earning 60 percent of the area median income.
The real estate community has been looking closely at Gowanus as of late thanks to rezoning plans that will likely spur high-end development and proposals for a public esplanade. To some, this waterfront vision seems a bit off due to the toxicity of the Canal and its history as a Superfund site, but naysayers may be changing their tune as a new report from the New York State Department of Health tells us that “limited direct contact with the canal’s waters, through boating or fishing” doesn’t increase the risk of cancer and other diseases, according to Gothamist. It’s still not safe to swim in the water, but, believe it or not, men and women of certain ages can even eat some of the Canal’s fish.
Rezoning and the promise of public right-of-way on the west Brooklyn Superfund canal could bring an esplanade like Williamsburg’s, a recreation area and lots of new development. The light-industrial zone wedged between pricey Park Slope and Carroll Gardens hasn’t accurately been a polluted flyover zone for decades, but the fact that it now boasts a flagship Whole Foods with a rooftop farm hasn’t gone unnoticed. As 6sqft reported recently, the canal-side enclave, despite the sometimes-fragrant waterway in its midst, is on a par with its neighbors as one of the city’s most expensive neighborhoods. Now Crain’s tells of rezoning plans and lucrative developments that could open the door for a public esplanade and waterfront amenities like those along the Hudson and the East River.
363-365 Bond Street, via Lightstone Group
One of the Lightstone Group‘s two new rental buildings in Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood is set to open Tuesday. The new residence at 365 Bond Street, along with its neighbor at 363 Bond (a year from completion) represent a $350 million effort by the developer to build 700 luxury rental apartments on the left bank of the Gowanus Canal. Designed to look like an historic brick-walled warehouse, market-rate apartments at 365 Bond start at over $2,000 a month for a studio and over $3,000 for a one-bedroom unit, according to the Wall Street Journal. Lightstone President Mitchell Hochberg says the project was inspired by the Canal Saint-Martin neighborhood in Paris, known for a residential project near a similarly polluted waterway which helped create a “newly hip atmosphere.”
The Gowanus Canal isn’t the first place that comes to mind when one thinks about lush waterfront parks, but that’s exactly the vision behind the long-planned Gowanus Canal Sponge Park, an 18,000-square-foot public space that will be built with engineered soil to absorb (hence “sponge”) stormwater that would otherwise pollute the canal, as well as plants to break down toxins and floating wetlands. It was first conceived back in 2008 by the Gowanus Canal Conservancy and Susannah Drake, principal at the landscape architecture firm DLANDstudio (who’s also responsible for the Queensway).
Now, seven years later, DNAinfo reports that state officials announced on Tuesday that construction has officially commenced on the $1.5 million project at the notorious Superfund site. The park will sit on city-owned land at the point where Second Street dead-ends at the canal. Workers are on site, digging out five feet of contaminated soil that will be sent to a special facility that handles toxic materials; during the next 90 days, the metal walkway will be installed; and plants will arrive in the spring.
- Join Open House NY for a boat tour along “Brooklyn’s coolest SuperFUNd Site” to learn about how one of NYC’s most polluted waterways is being reimagined. [6sqft inbox]
- The New York Building Congress announced a competition for a redesign of the city’s infamous sidewalk sheds. [Capital NY]
- You’ll never look at a cardboard box the same again. This new book “showcases the grand and imaginative scale of cardboard art and design.” [The Art of Cardboard]
- About half of New York City’s 50,000 cabbies are Muslim, and many of them use gas stations as a place to park and pray. Here’s an argument for why some NYC gas stations should convert to Islam. [Animal]
- New map “Transit Time NYC” shows subway travel times from any point in the city. [Untapped]