The city’s Department of City Planning released Tuesday its proposal for rezoning Gowanus into what it says will be a sustainable and affordable area for residents and businesses.
The Gowanus proposal—the fifth neighborhood rezoning to be formally proposed by the de Blasio administration—grew out of a city study launched in 2016. That was preceded by a community planning effort, called “Bridging Gowanus,” run by Councilman Brad Lander from 2013 to 2015.
According to the DCP, the framework reflects input from the residents, business owners, community organizers and city agencies. City Planning says more than 100 hours were spent in neighborhood meetings and events.
The framework plans to address affordable housing by preserving existing affordable homes, adopting the certificate-of -no harassment pilot program, imposing Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) on new residential development with incentives for property owners, using city-owned land and rezoning where appropriate. The plan also holds out the possibility of tackling overdue repair issues at NYCHA’s Gowanus, Wyckoff Gardens and Warren Street Houses, and reiterates the city’s plan to build new, mixed-income housing at Wyckoff Gardens
According to the proposal, residential developers will be required to set aside 20 percent to 30 percent of all units as permanently affordable, depending on the MIH options selected for the neighborhood. The proposal would seek to map MIH along the entire length of 4th Avenue within the study area.
“This is what it is going to come down to, the density— where it will overlap and where developers are looking to demolish, ” said Brad Vogel, a Gowanus resident and preservationist. “But there are some interesting nods to historical sites and that is encouraging.”
“This is a long process and this is not definitive,” Vogel said.
The framework report also targets infrastructure issues, emergency response planning, introducing solar power and/or a district energy grid, water management and treatment and canal remediation.
“We are not naive: issues of growth and development in New York City are complex, and not everyone will agree. And we know there is much hard work still to come. But we believe this framework gets the balance right for thoughtful growth with truly shared benefits,” said Council Members Brad Lander and Stephen Levin in joint statement. “We thank the Department of City Planning for convening a serious and thoughtful process, across hundreds of hours, that has included diverse voices, and we are especially grateful to all of the community residents who have participated. We look forward to continuing the conversation.”
On the economic side, the framework has goals to create more jobs while maintaining current small businesses and attract additional business through city services. The study does make some efforts to keep the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) but emphasizes the manufacturing industry is decreasing in the area.
“It’s sort of a mixed bag and some of what we expected to see,” said Paul Basile, president of the Gowanus Alliance. “We are dissatisfied that the IBZ is somewhat ignored. We took this as an opportunity and now it seems more fragmented than before.”
The next step for DCP is to draft a Neighborhood Plan to align community and government resources with the proposed zoning and land-use changes. Then the final proposal will enter the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, a seven-month process governing zoning changes.
The DCP Framework plan will be discussed at an Open House on June 27. DCP and 16 other City agencies will be at the meeting at P.S. 32, 317 Hoyt Street, from 5 to 8:30 p.m.
The full framework is on DCP’s website.