New York City: home of iconic skyscrapers, great pizza, breathtaking arts, and one of the country’s most polluted water channels, also known as the Gowanus Canal. Located in south Brooklyn, the Gowanus has long been used as a dumping ground for the city, as it connected industrial Brooklyn with the Upper New York Bay. Today, the water contains harmful bacteria, decomposing sewage, and other unknown, potentially living things that are undoubtedly just as harmful as the arsenic and other carcinogens therein.
As a result, one might imagine that people avoid the area in which it’s located, but it’s actually one of the more expensive parts of Brooklyn, and it shows no signs of slowing down. As the borough itself become more hip, with other neighborhoods like Bushwick and Crown Heights seeing impact, Gowanus isn’t far behind. The area has attracted millennials with great paying jobs and a penchant for the hipster lifestyle, willing to shell out thousands of dollars per month for rent for the areas amenities.
Developers are taking notice, of course. One such development by Lightstone, built right along the canal at 365 Bond St., features a rooftop lounge, valet parking, a view of the water itself and rents that start at $3,000 for a one bedroom. The individuals interested, though younger, smarter, and seemingly health conscious if the organic grocery stores are any indicator, don’t see it as something to afraid of.
It’s not just the wealthy who are apathetic about the polluted area. Some 56,000 people participated in an online lottery for affordable housing in the same building. Yet, given the nature of rising rents in the borough and the rest of the city, some of the applicants may be interested in whatever’s available, despite the areas infamy.
Because of its problems, however, the waterway has been designated as a Superfund and is scheduled to be cleaned up for the Environmental Protection Agency within the next couple of years. The process itself could take about 10 years and cost a half billion dollars. Apparently, developers like Lightstone see this more as opportunity to encourage further development in the area while it’s being worked on, rather than waiting its turn. After all, this is New York City, space is limited and if they don’t someone else will.
As bad as it is, though, some people believe it has gotten better. A long time Gowanus resident, featured in a Crain’s article from this month, said it doesn’t smell as bad and that things are on the up. Still, it’s interesting to see the spectrum of reactions to the growing but toxic area. Location is everything but obviously different things to different people.