Development Delayed Indefinitely on Brooklyn's Toxic Canal


When Toll Brothers, the developer most famous for its suburban McMansion subdivisions, first eyed New York City in 2004, many here saw it as the beginning of an ironic twist to the story of real estate. Its City Living division raised luxury towers in neighborhoods that had been denizens of drug users or had been homey family neighborhoods -- I'm talking East Village and Williamsburg, respectively -- just a decade before.

But that was nothing compared to the irony of creating a vast luxury complex on one of the most contested sites in all of Brooklyn: the Gowanus Canal. It was rumored to be one of the most toxic bodies of water in America, filled with residual gunk from the neighborhood's manufacturing past, along with dead bodies deposited there by the mob. The project would have erected 460 units of housing, 140 of them affordable, in buildings four- to 12-stories high right along the waterfront.