Nat Grid puts 16-acre Gravesend property for sale, thwarting hopes for new sanitation garage

national grid
National Grid is looking to sell a 16-acre lot in Gravesend that was formerly a manufactured gas plant.

This is trash!

National Grid is looking to sell a massive lot in Gravesend to a private developer, which could build a mall or manufacturing hub on the property — dashing the dreams of locals, who hoped the space would be used for a new sanitation garage instead.

The lot — located between the Belt Parkway and Coney Island Creek — is zoned for heavy industry, meaning it could house a factory, recycling plant, or large-scale retail if its prospective owners get a zoning variance approved, according to real estate company JLL, who National Grid enlisted to sell the property. 

National Grid’s predecessor, Brooklyn Borough Gas Company, acquired the 12 football fields worth of land in the early 1900s, and operated a manufactured gas plant there from then until the 1960s.

Brooklyn Union Gas later acquired the Brooklyn Borough Gas Company, and years after the plant’s demolition, the state’s Department of Conservation forced the company to fund a remediation of the land, which had been heavily contaminated with gas, pesticides, and other harmful toxins. National Grid took over Brooklyn Union Gas in 2006.

As Crain’s first reported, JLL says that the remediated land is now ready for development — but community groups have lamented the possible sale to a private entity, saying that the city has promised to build two desperately-needed sanitation garages on the lot for more than 36 years.

“I can’t believe they ended up selling it when that was meant for our garage for the longest time, and now it’s too late,” said Theresa Scavo, the chairwoman of Sheepshead Bay’s Community Board 15. 

Unlike many Manhattan sanitation districts that are equipped with snazzy, glass-clad garages, Sheepshead Bay’s sanitation employees have been working out of trailers on Knapp Street for more than ten years, Scavo said. 

“There’s no garage — it’s just an open field,” she said. “The trailers have been there since before Sandy. They’ve been there for years.”

national grid
In 2016, the city’s Department of Sanitation presented to Coney Island’s Community Board 13 about their plans for a new sanitation garage.Courtesy of Ida Sanoff

Coney Islanders have also been looking forward for the new three- or four-story garage, which would have allowed their local sanitation department to move its garbage trucks and other equipment out of its beaten-down facility on Neptune Avenue and W. 21st Street, according to one local maven.

“When the homes were built back there (West 21st) about 25 to 30 years ago, [residents] were told that the garage was moving ‘soon,'” said local environmentalist Ida Sanoff. “It was to move to this location, on the creek, but first the new location had to be remediated.” 

A spokeswoman from the Department of Sanitation confirmed that the new garage had been in the works for decades, but said the city never funded its construction or other necessary infrastructure upgrades.

“We have previously expressed interest in developing a garage on that property, and have had [Uniform Land Use Review Procedure] approval to do so since 1984 which was reaffirmed in 2006,” said Belinda Mager. “In 2014, National Grid conducted [a Request for Proposal] for redevelopment of the site, through which the city was selected to construct a new Sanitation garage to serve districts 13 and 15. However, we are not funded to construct a new garage at that location.”

Mager added that, despite the 36-year setback, a new sanitation garage for the two southern Brooklyn neighborhoods is still in the works.

“It is our long term goal to construct a new, modern garage to house both districts,” she said. “However, we are not funded to do so at this time.”

Now that the National Grid site is off the table, Scavo fears that there is no other spot that could accommodate the sanitation storage needed for the swath of southern Brooklyn. 

“I can’t think of another location that’s within both borders to share a garage,” she said.