Gowanus Community to Set Development Goals

By Catherine Yang, Epoch Times
December 2, 2013 Updated: December 2, 2013    

NEW YORK—Local residents from the area surrounding the Gowanus Canal scheduled a meeting for next Monday to discuss plans to preserve the budding arts and artisanal businesses in the area as it expects a wave of development.

The area is set to receive $500 million via a federal Superfund grant to clean up the Gowanus Canal under the proposed. This fall, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized plans to clean up the canal, an area bounded by the neighborhoods of Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, and Red Hook.

“The release of the EPA’s Superfund cleanup plan is a major step toward a cleaner canal, but there is much more that needs to be done,” councilmember Brad Lander stated in the meeting announcement. “Amidst rising tides, mounting development pressure, and an upcoming transition at City Hall, let’s come together to preserve and strengthen what we value about Gowanus, and plan for the infrastructure and land use regulations needed for the future.”

Lander’s office expects the meetings to last through the spring.

The initiative, proposed by elected officials including Lander, councilmember Stephen Levin, and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, who was involved with the Superfund plan, aims to create a set of unified goals so the area won’t face a “zoning-only agenda,” according to the Bridging Gowanus website.

The area is largely industrial, and lacking in infrastructure and schools. The sewers are often overloaded, according to the Bridging Gowanus website. 

Some residents expect more development with the canal cleaning, and there are worries that some of the projects could be a flood risk. During Hurricane Sandy, the bridges over Gowanus Canal were completely submerged due to flooding.

Ideally, the community would come to a clear agreement of what sort of flood protection is needed, what sort of mixed-use would benefit the neighborhoods, what infrastructure is needed, where residential development should be allowed, and at what scale. 

While it sounds like a tall order, many of these items are already on the minds of community members who are seeing major projects go up. 

Whole Foods is opening its first Brooklyn market in the area, a 52,000-square-foot market with a 20,000-square-foot greenhouse above the store to grow organic produce. 

David Lichtenstein’s Lightstone Group is planning to build a 700-unit residential building on a rezoned parcel previously slated for a Toll Brothers luxury condo project. The Save Gowanus Association has opposed the 12-story development, demanding Lightstone update their 2009 environmental review. Save Gowanus is also fundraising to conduct their own flood study for the area.

The meeting will be held 6:30—8:30 p.m., Monday, Dec. 9, at PS 372, The Children’s School, on 512 Carroll St.