Monday, November 20, 2006

Williamsburg Condos: Pay No Mind to the Oily Muck

McCarren Park Mews Combined

Brooklyn may be one of the few places around where people will plunk down $500,000, $1 million or more for a condo on a piece of land with a very questionable environmental past. As more residential developments go up on formerly industrial sites, the problems will multiply.

A case in point is the development known as McCarren Park Mews. It's located between N. 10th and N. 11th Streets at Roebling in Williamsburg. We've watched as the former buildings have been demolished and the site has grown to encompass nearly half the block. We've also noticed that oil is oozing out of the soil, especially as the hole gets deeper and noted a profusion of wood pilings sunk into the ground. The photo above has four of the shots we took recently.

There are places where the soil is black because it is so saturated with oil and there is an overpowering smell of oil coming from the site. When we looked for info, we found a blogger describing the building across the street from this site as an "ugly, semi-giant, multi-unit building on top of tanks of toxic oil or some other sort of disgusting, poisonous chemical." The Bad Advice blog said of the builder and building:
He moved a bunch of people in, no doubt paying insane rents, only to have to evict them within a year after the DEP shut him down. After laying vacant for a couple years, there's been some activity recently. Workers moving out washer/dryers, guys cleaning the windows, etc. Now suddenly a sign goes up, billing it as "luxury condos" for under 500k.
When we posted this on Curbed a reader included some valuable background as part of a comment:
It is the remains of a once-thriving industrial area built on a swamp. Bushwick Creek (nee Norman Kill) used to run roughly under this site, and much of the surrounding area was swamp land. Follow that with lots of industrial uses during the 20th century, and you get a lovely stew.
Another reader noted that he has seen "people sweeping toxic tire tracks back into the site."

We first started paying more attention to the site (other than the smell that finally got our attention) when we noticed a "rain making" machine, like they use for movies, parked next to the site for about a month. Large piles of soil are also covered with blue tarp after the dirt is excavated.

There is no indicaiton of Department of Environmental Protection involvement or any signs noting any sort of toxic or hazardous material cleanup. However, we noted that soil has been removed from the site since last week and that the hole has gotten deeper. The epicenter of the ooze seems to be the northeast corner of the site.

We await the renderings of the project and the offering that will no doubt use some sort of McCarren Park sales pitch for the very expensive condos that will go atop this mess.

(We will have more photos of the toxic slime challenging development conditions tomorrow.)

Oil Three


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you know a goddamn thing about soil engineering? Did you bother to research at all the process of decontaminating a building site? Or do you just criticize without knowing the facts?

I'm guessing it's the latter.

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just for information purposes, those wood piles are not 'old', they were just put in place to set the foundation of the building on.

4:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

could it be the big newton creek spill?

11:10 AM  

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