Activity is about to begin booming along the Greenpoint waterfront, and the latest project to go public is 77 Commercial Street, which will contain two residential towers rising 331 and 429 feet. The buildings will house a total of 720 units, with the project’s 760,000 square feet of development to include ground floor retail, community facilities, and 320 parking spaces – all revealed with a host of additional details in the project’s environmental impact statement.
Alongside the development, the proposal entails the creation of ‘Box Street Park,’ at the MTA’s 65 Commercial Street. Several dozen Greenpoint residents have been vocal opponents of the development, but the current land is an empty waste, and all of the waterfront sites are adjacent to Newtown Creek, which is heavily polluted. The actual Superfund site sits upstream, but – unknown to most New Yorkers – the creek was the site of a major oil spill that began in 1978, and remedial action only began in 1990, with the disaster ranking as the largest oil spill in U.S. history prior to the Deepwater Horizon incident.
Located in the depths of the environmental impact statement is language indicating air quality around the building rests just below hazardous, with long-term non-carcinogenic compound exposure ranking .81 and short-term exposure coming in at .91, both “below the level (of 1) that is considered by the EPA to be significant.” Living in New York City, the air is never pristine, but the push for residential development along the Greenpoint waterfront should be followed by the closing of nearby industrial facilities, which continue to pollute both Greenpoint and Newtown Creek.
Indeed, even with clean-up since the oil spill, problems remain. Per MetroFocus, “The EPA finally declared Newtown Creek a Superfund site in September, 2010, and a preliminary study thereafter determined that multiple companies are responsible for the pollution in the creek, which is evaporating into the air. Also, fish cannot survive in the water.”
Though neighborhood NIMBYs do not seem to be concerned about living adjacent to a toxic waste dump, the fight against 77 Commercial Street and Greenpoint Landing persists.