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Real Estate Developers Eye Streets Around Notoriously Toxic Gowanus Canal

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- From toxic to trendy -- the area around the Gowanus Canal is suddenly hot.

The pollution of the canal is well documented. Decades of chemicals from manufacturing plants seeped into the Brooklyn waterway, but recently the famously green, murky channel became a big draw to the neighborhood.

"It doesn't smell quite as bad as it used to," Bobby Olsen told CBS2's Jessica Borg.

Olsen works in a new luxury building on Bond Street which touts its waterfront views. A rendering of the outside of the building even imagines resident canoeing down the canal.

Nearby on Baltic Street a boutique hotel being built also promotes its proximity to the canal, and the industrial flavor of the area.

Real estate expert Daniel Geiger said Gowanus has a lot of appeal right now.

"It's an aesthetic, right. These warehouse buildings, and there is this grittiness, it feels like a real New York kind of place," he said.

The long-awaited cleanup of the canal got underway last year. For several years the area has been getting a makeover with new restaurants, bars, and other amenities.

"We've got the convenience of the Whole Foods around the corner, which is very nice," Roseanne Martino said.

Many real estate developers view the Gowanus Canal as the jewel of the area, because they think when it's cleaned up in about 10 years or so, it will have the same appeal as any canal in Venice.

More properties overlooking the canal are being revamped, but some community advocates said it's coming at a cost.

There's a push to make sure the area's manufacturing jobs aren't being squeezed out in favor of new development.

For now, if all eyes aren't on the Gowanus Canal.

"I'm not going skinny dipping in there," Olsen said.

One bedroom rentals start at about $3,000 a month.



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