Major Brooklyn site poised for remediation

December 3, 2014

Today, Brooklyn is practically unrecognizable from the working-class neighborhood of even a decade ago. The borough has become the "it" place to be for Millennials, artists and urbane city dwellers of all backgrounds. As a result, rents and the cost of real estate in the area have skyrocketed. This prompted a new report by Borough President Eric Adams, which the The Wall Street Journal recently explored.

Adams wrote that many properties prime for redevelopment have been overlooked because of hurdles caused by environmental remediation. One site that he points to as an example is the Brooklyn Army Terminal. This 4.4 million-square-foot complex sits on a prime location in the neighborhoods Sunset Park waterfront, and is currently in partial use for manufacturing and warehouse purposes.

According to Adams, addressing environmental concerns and rezoning the site could help generate 700 units of desperately-needed affordable housing. 

"We have to stop walking by stones and start overturning stones," he wrote in his report. "Brooklyn no longer has any area that is undesirable."

The report also calls for several city-owned parking lots sitting on land contaminated by prior industrial use, to be remediated and developed into housing. Adams argues that the city needs to act now to address these properties, as prolonging further development could lead to unsustainable rent inflation levels . 

As the population continues to favor moving into urban areas, city's will have to find new ways to control rent prices and make room for new residents. Addressing brownfields and other properties contaminated by previous industrial use helps to ensure that there are affordable living arrangements for all. Environmental consultants should be included in this process to help determine the most cost-effective means of returning land to habitable condition.