Eligible for the “Vital Brooklyn” economic development program, a New York State-owned parking facility at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University campus was well-positioned to help revitalize an under-utilized neighborhood. CAMBA Housing Ventures, specialists in affordable housing development, identified the 329 Clarkson Avenue site as meeting two critical program requirements: it would provide much-needed affordable housing and produce revenue from a State-owned asset. GZA’s environmental planners and engineers already had intimate familiarity with the neighborhood because of successful planning projects completed for this developer and others in the area.
The parking garage sat atop a former manufactured gas plant (MGP) site, subject to a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Site Management Plan to address soil and soil gas issues. Numerous parties were stakeholders in this highly regulated, contaminated, high profile site. The involvement of multiple regulatory organizations and funders—each with separate requirements and deadlines—necessitated that the typically lengthy environmental remediation and planning process be streamlined. A nimble approach to meeting regulatory deadlines in sync with funding cycles was needed to maximize funding.
GZA’s multi-disciplinary team of environmental and planning professionals negotiated with numerous state and city regulating bodies to streamline the involvement of responsible parties, prioritized the establishment of a single level of jurisdiction (at the state level, instead of both state and city), secured an acceptable Remedial Site Optimization Investigation (RSOI) that allowed GZA to proceed with the remedial measures, and obtained the necessary state zoning override. A 9-story, 300-unit mixed-use development was approved, introducing a landmark, amenity-rich, passive house-certified building featuring 100% affordable housing inventory; social, welfare and job training services; sustainable features including a green roof; and more. The environmental remediation is currently being completed by GZA.
GZA’s diligence, multi-disciplinary team, and innovative solutions overcame complex timing and regulatory hurdles to help the client optimize funding sources and create a vibrant and healthy neighborhood that will generate productive revenue from the state-owned site while maintaining the necessary community parking asset it displaced.
GZA is currently facilitating the construction term remedial engineering and design process associated with an approved remedial action plan.