GOWANUS – The NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) will follow up last week’s Gowanus Draft Zoning Proposal open house with a formal presentation at 6pm on Thursday, February 28 at PS 133, William A. Butler School, 610 Baltic Street (at 4th Avenue).
Unhappy with the open house format of DCP’s February 7 event, where NYC agency representatives were stationed at tables with proposal highlights posted behind them, members of the Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition for Justice (GNCJ) staged their own meeting. GNCJ—advocates for low- and moderate-income residents, public housing tenants, and industrial and commercial businesses in Gowanus—demanded that city officials and agency representatives step forward at the event and answer their questions about the Draft Zoning Proposal.
Among the group’s concerns with the proposal, released by DCP on Wednesday, January 30, are the absence of an eco-district as well as the lack of attention for the industrial business zone (IBZ) and the area’s three NYCHA developments (Gowanus Houses, Warren Street Houses, and Wyckoff Gardens).
Along with presenting the Draft Zoning Proposal at the February 28 Community Board 6 Land Use Committee meeting, DCP will also answer questions from the public. Click here to see the Gowanus Draft Zoning Proposal.
DCP Presents Gowanus Draft Zoning to CB6
Thursday, February 28, 6pm to 9pm
PS 133, William A. Butler School, 610 Baltic Street (at 4th Avenue)
In October 2018, Brooklyn Community Board 6 wrote a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of City Planning Chair Marisa Lago in response to Gowanus: A Framework for a Sustainable, Inclusive, Mixed-Use Neighborhood.
Released in June 2018, the Framework was created following more than 100 hours of community meetings and workshops. It was used as a road map in developing the Draft Zoning Proposal. The community board letter “sets forth the ideas” CB6 would like “to see remain in the proposal as well as others that should be reconsidered.” Click here to see a PDF of the letter.
Prior to the Draft Zoning Proposal’s release, Gowanus by Design (GbD) also provided its response to DCP regarding the Framework and presented it at the CB6 Land Use Committee meeting on January 24. GbD is a non-profit urban design advocacy group that proposes solutions in shaping and designing Gowanus in a sustainable, diverse, and inclusive way.
“The Draft Zoning Proposal is promising, demonstrating a sensitivity to community requests to support mixed uses and provide more affordable housing,” Gowanus By Design Executive Director David Briggs said in an email.
“However, we are concerned with the impact of significant new residential development on the local infrastructure. The local transit system, particularly the subway, is already reaching a breaking point during peak commuting times. As part of fostering a responsible, sustainable urban strategy, we call on the city to reconsider the zoning proposal in the context of its broader impact on infrastructure that the community relies on,” Briggs added.
While GbD lauds the draft zoning proposal’s inclusion of mandatory affordable housing, affordable commercial/arts/maker spaces, new public spaces, and resiliency measures, it also highlights some adverse impacts of the rezoning such as overcrowding, the need for more school seats, and an increase in ridership on the area’s subways (F, G, and R lines).
The day before DCP’s open house last week, the Gowanus Landmarking Coalition launched its website listing 15 priority sites and districts in Gowanus that the group has requested the NYC Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) to consider for landmark designation.
“We’ve seen this before in recent city-led neighborhood rezonings,” Brad Vogel, a Coalition member and Gowanus resident, said in a statement. “Landmarking has been left as something of an afterthought in places like East Harlem, Inwood, and East New York when it needs to happen prior to the major changes that come with city-led rezonings. We hope the city will take a better course here in Gowanus.”
The Gowanus Landmarking Coalition is made up of neighborhood, city, and historical groups including the Historic Districts Council, Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus (FROGG), The Old Stone House, and the Park Slope Civic Council.
In May 2018, the Coalition held a press conference to discuss 33 potential Gowanus landmark sites. The group has since narrowed down the list to 15 priority sites including: Gowanus Station (234 Butler Street); Gowanus Flushing Tunnel Pump House (209 Douglass Street); ASPCA Memorial Building and Horse Trough (233 Butler Street); American Can Factory (232 3rd Street); Brooklyn Rapid Transit Powerhouse (322 3rd Avenue); S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse (595-611 Smith Street); Union Street Bridge Control Tower; The Green Building (450-460 Union Street); the 2nd Street Historic District; and the Head-of-Canal Historic District.