Superfund Designation: Good for Gowanus?

EPA designation might help real estate values, brokers say March 31, 2010

By C. J. Hughes

At left: The canal, a narrow 1.8-mile, tilde-shaped waterway, includes bits of neighborhoods like Park Slope and Carroll Gardens. At right: The EPA plan would curb runoff and remove the sludge in the Gowanus Canal.

Last month, Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal became one of the most polluted places in the country, at least in the eyes of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which named it to the infamous “Superfund” cleanup list.

While that environmental scarlet letter may not make for the most compelling marketing gimmick — New York’s Love Canal, whose toxicity led to the creation of the Superfund in 1980, is hardly prime real estate today — Gowanus probably won’t see its property values dip, according to many brokers, landlords and developers.

There are a couple of reasons for that counterintuitive assessment. For one, the neighborhood around the canal, a narrow 1.8-mile, tilde-shaped waterway, includes bits of established neighborhoods like Park Slope and Carroll Gardens.

What’s more, mopping up the mess from oil refineries, tanneries and raw sewage, which have contaminated the Gowanus since it was dug in the 1860s, will likely mean better things to come.

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