Greenpoint Superfund Site Attacked by NIMBYs for Overdevelopment

The Brownstoner has the scoop on the latest development in Brooklyn to draw NIMBY attention, which is one of the borough’s largest future projects; Greenpoint Landing. The 10-odd tower project promises to bring thousands of homes as well as a retail component to land that is currently derelict.

For a comparison between what is to be and what currently exists, look at the two below images.

What is:

Greenpoint Brooklyn Waterfront
Greenpoint waterfront, image from Archpaper

What will be:

Greenpoint Landing, Brooklyn NYC
Greenpoint Landing, image from Handel Architects via Archpaper

The land Greenpoint Landing is proposed for–the old lumberyard–is total and complete dead space at the moment. Covered by parking lots and a sporadic warehouse, the site is a waste of prime real estate on the Brooklyn waterfront.

Instead of addressing the size of the towers, any complaints should actually be with the aesthetics. Visually, the towers have nothing in common with Greenpoint of the past or Greenpoint of today, instead presenting a monotonous development of towers that could be from Miami or Vancouver. That may not be a bad thing though, as any real homage to Greenpoint’s past would involve vinyl siding, which has come to define many of the neighborhood’s buildings.

The flyer asks “[can] you fit TEN buildings (and all these new residents) responsibly and ethically on 22 acres here?” as if Manhattan isn’t directly across the river, where almost all projects are significantly denser.

Greenpoint NIMBYs
NIMBY flyer against Greenpoint Landing, from The Brownstoner

The qualms with green space are also ridiculous. The developers of the project will restore the waterfront link between Brooklyn and Queens, with the inclusion of a Calatrava-designed pedestrian bridge. Whether that pedestrian bridge is value-engineered or not remains to be seen, but so does whether anyone wants to traverse Newtown Creek, which is one of New York’s most notorious superfund sites.

The real question is whether the land the development is being built on is actually safe for habitation, given the  fact that 17 to 30 million gallons of petrochemical products were released into Newtown Creek and leached into neighborhood soils beginning in 1950, only being discovered in 1978. Those numbers are roughly double the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez.

Modern construction should be able to mitigate the effects of the pollution, and most residents won’t be living at ground level anyways–just enjoying the green space! If people want to live in a neighborhood bisected by a creek that contains “[pesticides], metals, PCBs, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are potentially harmful contaminants that can easily evaporate into the air,” (per the EPA) they are welcome to pay exorbitant prices to do so.

There’s certainly no sense in protesting the development of land that–in its current state–actually detracts from the neighborhood. Logic is not something NIMBY opponents typically possess.

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TFC Horizon

7 Comments on "Greenpoint Superfund Site Attacked by NIMBYs for Overdevelopment"

  1. I agree 100 percent !!! Nimby opponents really got this one wrong !!!! BUILD BABY BUILD !!!!!

  2. I agree entirely with the aesthetic argument. Look to how Seattle manages aesthetic design for towers. The demand should be that this complex integrate with the neighborhood instead of being a walled-off complex with dead street-level architecture.

    Anybody who wants to build this many towers sees (correctly) big money potential. This won’t be killed by demanding proper architectural design. The reality for NIMBY’s is that this space should and will be developed for density – the right approach is to do whatever you can to make it IMPROVE the neighborhood rather than trying to fight it entirely. The developers very much want this project – insist that they include schools, infrastructure, transit improvements, street-level design and interesting architecture for the towers themselves.

    – greenpoint resident

  3. I think it’s odd how people come live in NY from all over the world then freak out when skyscrapers and new developments are proposed for their neighborhoods.
    News Flash: New York is an ever changing dynamic city and get this… it’s full of skyscrapers.

    -Al G

  4. Kind of amazing that anyone could object to completely dead space on the water being developed. Highest and best use. Density is what makes this the greatest city on earth. Some people just can’t handle change in any form apparently.


  5. +1 to all the comments! Great points brought up by everyone, and it’s ridiculous that a project that’s going to be built on landfill is seeing this kind of opposition. Opposition to development here is justified to some degree, but not because of aesthetics–it’s because Newtown Creek is a superfund site!

  6. This development site is not anywhere near the oil spill site which is on the other side of Community Board 1 adjacent to the East Williamsburg industrial park. The entire Greenpoint East River waterfront had been home to Rope Manufacturers, Coffee Traders and Lumber Yards before if became vacant. Before that it was farmland. Greenpoint’s East River Waterfront did not have the heavy industrial uses on it’s shore. The Astral Oil Works and the former Brownfield known as Eastern District Terminal were all on the East river south of the Bushwick inlet in the now rezoned and developed Williamsburg waterfront (The property where the Edge is located). As far as the Greenpoint Landing project goes . . . frankly, it looks amazing. It would be a great addition to this already wonderful neighborhood.

  7. It will increase the area population by 25%. There is only one train line and only small residential surface streets surrounding this monster. The area cannot sustain that kind of massive influx of people. They haven’t even considered this.

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