Urban Living Beats Frank Liu to the Punch at MDI Superfund Site with Construction on Inaugural Townhome Cluster

Aside from the presence of workers, the only hint you’ll find that construction has begun on the MDI Superfund site is the sign now standing at the location itself (and the HAIF thread where a user first called attention the whole scene). It’s facing toward the end of Gillespie St., a tiny Fifth Ward road that crosses over Hirsch Rd. and some railroad tracks 3 blocks north of Clinton Dr. before petering out into the eastern edge of the vacant, 35-acre industrial site. There, 3 acres are now giving rise to 42 new townhomes put there Urban Living, the Houston developer that received a multi-million dollar bill in court last week for copying copyrighted townhome plans at a handful of other sites. It’s calling this latest batch East River Yards (an apparent nod to the other industrial tract just south, the gradually crumbling KBR campus that’s been redubbed East River.)

The East River Yards houses will cluster around 3 shared driveways, all of which let out onto Press St.:


In January, The EPA touted the encompassing acreage — once home to the Many Diversified Interests metal foundry — as one “with the greatest expected redevelopment and commercial potential,” out of all the Superfund sites it keeps tabs on. No surprise there, since Frank Liu of Lovett Homes, InTown Homes, and other local builder brands pledged to clean up MDI’s mess of lead, arsenic, and other pollutants in 2006 after buying the site year prior. Since then, however, the land has been divvied-up so that an entity outside Liu’s umbrella owns the parcel where the townhomes are going up. And although Liu’s companies filed plans to build a few hundred residential buildings of their own on other parts of the property during the years since the sale, none of them have materialized.

Photos: Swamplox inbox (construction); EPA (aerial)

East River Yards

10 Comment

  • Did it actually get cleaned up? I’m not sure I’d choose to buy there given all of the other options. These places will forever have to disclose this.

  • Oh wow: but an UL townhome and possibly be exposed to toxic waste!! Checked that off my Bucket List.

  • I’m sure the townhome developers can be trusted to make sure all pollution has been removed from the soil.

  • “Many Diversified Interests” is a pretty sketchy sounding name, even in 1926 when they start smelting. Looks like they ended in 1992. So how exactly does somebody go about getting 66 years of arsenic and lead out of the soils and ground water? Who would have thought this area of the bloody nickel would be seeing such nice redevelopment!

  • Supposedly the EPA made a report that stated it was all cleaned up. I guess you need need to weigh it as such… you have Environmental paperwork stating your land is clean. You could be living near one on the south side of 610 or the west side of the heights without knowing it.

  • Urban Living IS NOT A DEVELOPER. Urban Living IS A BROKER.

  • We would have won Swamplot Bingo if there was a reference to a mattress store in here somewhere.

  • From https://arcg.is/1P8CST :
    Site History:
    From 1926 until the early 1990s, two metal casting foundries and a chemical recycling facility operated on site. Facility operations and waste materials resulted in the contamination of soil and groundwater with benzo(a)pyrene, petroleum hydrocarbons, lead and other metals. EPA placed the site on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List (NPL) in 1999.
    Cleanup Activities:
    Cleanup included removal and off-site disposal of contaminated soils and waste materials, source removal, long-term groundwater monitoring and implementation of institutional controls to prevent exposure to contaminated groundwater. Cleanup also removed lead-contaminated soils from neighboring residential and public areas. Construction of the site’s remedy finished in 2008.
    More info: https://cumulis.epa.gov/supercpad/cursites/csitinfo.cfm?id=0605008&msspp=med

  • @Skeptic LOL

  • How exactly do you clean up ground water, what if the dirty water moves? Monitoring just implies that you are waiting for it to be diluted. Since these homes wont run off of well water but piped in COH water, I would guess that the EPAs threshold isnt 0.0. Wonder what the level was in Flint MI?