With Park Slope having been developed to capacity, nearby Gowanus is seeing a significant increase in commercial and residential development. Most prominently, Shaya Boymelgreen plans to build Gowanus Village, a 375,000 unit, mixed-use development with 350 apartments and condominiums stretching from Carroll Street to Third Street, and from the Gowanus Canal to Third Avenue. Boymelgreen is not alone in targeting Gowanus, as Toll Brothers and numerous other developers are buying land in the area as well. Separately, the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation has established a plan to turn the area into a “green zone,” with low-rise energy efficient buildings lining the canal.
In February 2007, the city announced a new rezoning plan for Gowanus which includes designations for affordable housing and retail use in what was traditionally an industrial area. In the proposal, Gowanus has been divided up into five sub-areas, all of which are being targeted for development. It is expected that three of the sub-zones will still contain industrial areas, even outside the Industrial Business Zone. The city must still conduct an environmental impact statement and no development has yet been planned.
Residents remain concerned that the proposed plan did not directly address the clean-up of the polluted Gowanus Canal. In early 2010, Whole Foods began cleaning a parcel of land with subsidy from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Brownfield Cleanup Program; however, a timeline for constructing the store has not been released.
In March 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency announced its decision to designate the Gowanus Canal as a Superfund site. The Bloomberg administration had previously opposed the designation, preferring instead to have the site cleaned by the Army Corp of Engineers. The City had hoped to upgrade the sewage system and work with those responsible for the clean-up. The Bloomberg Administration sought to avoid lawsuits and the potential anti-development stigma that the administration felt may come from the designation.
Conversely, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation urged the E.P.A. to designate the site as a Superfund. The E.P.A. initiated a review and found the Canal was contaminated with pesticides, metals, and cancer causing pollutants. Now that the site has been designated a Superfund, the federal government will spend $300- $500 million to clean the 1.8 mile stretch of canal. The E.P.A. has also generated a list of parties that may be at fault for the contamination, including the U.S. Navy and New York City. The plan is expected to take 10-12 years to complete.
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Last Updated: March 2, 2010