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Gowanus Canal cleanup costs could rise thanks to possible rezoning

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The city may have to purchase two private parcels, valued at $70 million, that are being utilized for cleanup efforts

Efforts to clean up Brooklyn’s toxic Gowanus Canal are making progress, but the city could be forced to shell out more than anticipated due to its own in-progress plans to rezone the neighborhood, reports to Crain’s.

In 2013, as part of cleanup efforts, the EPA ordered a sewage retention tank to be constructed on site, with the idea being that it would prevent excess sewage from spilling into the canal during storms. Eventually, the choice came down to two options: The city could build the 8 million-gallon tank either beneath a pool located in Thomas Greene Park (aka the Double D Pool), or they could acquire private property and build the tank there.

The federal government urged the city to house the tank beneath the pool, since the land was already city property; but the De Blasio administration wanted to keep sewage smells away from children and opted to move forward with building the tanks on private land. (One of the lots was home to Eastern Effects, a studio where The Americans was filmed.)

The decision was driven by good intentions; but now, it looks like the proposed (and, at this point, still unrealized) Gowanus rezoning could make the process of acquiring that land more costly. Per Crain’s, the average price for a manufacturing plot was $135 per square foot back in 2015. Today, the price has ballooned to an average of $370 per square foot. Purchasing the two sites that the city is utilizing (located at 242 Nevins Street and 234 Butler Street) would cost somewhere around $70 million, which doesn’t account for land that would be needed to stage construction equipment for the duration of the seven-year construction phase.

If the city has learned anything from the saga to secure land to complete Bushwick Inlet Park in Williamsburg, they might want to consider acquiring land needed as part of Gowanus cleanup efforts now, before things get even pricier.