The de Blasio administration predicts the prospective rezoning of Gowanus will trigger the creation of an estimated 8,200 new apartments by 2035, with an estimated 3,000 of them permanently affordable under the city’s mandatory inclusionary housing (MIH) program, according to city documents released Monday.
The draft scope released Monday maps out the environmental impact study that must commence before the project can move into the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP.
The proposed rezoning is part the de Blasio administration’s housing plan to create and preserve 300,000 affordable housing units, partly through rezoning up to 15 neighborhoods across the city to make them denser. The housing projections revealed this week set up the Gowanus rezoning to be the largest apartment producer of all the administration’s neighborhood plans. The East New York rezoning was expected to generate an estimated 6,300 apartments and projections were for 4,500 units in Jerome Avenue, 4,300 apartments in Inwood, 3,500 new units in East Harlem and 3,100 of them in Far Rockaway.
On privately owned sites, the city predicts that the Gowanus rezoning could create approximately 7,200 apartments, with approximately 2,000 permanently affordable under MIH. On city-owned sites, the city expects approximately 1,000 new affordable housing units.
The area subject to the rezoning is bounded by Bond, Hoyt, and Smith Streets to the west, 3rd and 4th Avenues to the east, Huntington, 3rd, 7th, and 15th Streets to the south, and Warren, Baltic, and Pacific Streets to the north –approximately 80-block area of the Gowanus neighborhood spanning parts of Community Districts 2 and 6.
The rezoning’s proposed actions are expected to produce 696,000 square feet of commercial space; 251,000 square feet of community facility space; and 6.4 acres of new open space, including over an acre of newly mapped parkland. According to the Department of City Planning, the scope also projects over 3,100 new jobs.
But there will be losses as well as gains: The neighborhood that surrounds the Canal will lose 104,000 square feet of warehouse space, 125,000 square feet of self-storage space, and 60,000 square feet other industrial space such as light-manufacturing or open air industrial storage, according to the Draft Scope of Work, which details the technical outcomes of the development proposal and potential environmental impacts.
A public hearing on the draft scope has been scheduled for Thursday, April 25th, 2019, at 4:00 p.m. in the auditorium of Middle School (M.S.) 51 at 350 5th Avenue in Brooklyn. Written comments will be accepted by the lead agency until the close of business on Thursday, May 6th.
From 2013 to 2015, Councilmembers Brad Lander and Stephen Levin led a community-driven planning process called Bridging Gowanus which culminated in a final report published in 2015.
The city released its framework draft rezoning plan in June last year. The administration says the plan would “support existing and future resiliency and sustainability efforts; encourage and expand neighborhood services and amenities; improve streetscapes, pedestrian safety, and access along the Canal; explore ways to support and develop space for job-generating uses—including industrial, arts, and cultural uses; promote opportunities for new housing with required permanently affordable housing and protect residential tenants against harassment and displacement; and coordinate necessary infrastructure improvements throughout the area to support the continued cleanup of the Gowanus Canal and to accommodate existing and future needs,” according to the draft scope of work.
In the Fourth Avenue Corridor, the city proposes a C4-4D zoning for a commercial and residential mix of buildings which will be covered by Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and in residential areas. In other parts, such as Warren Street, the city proposes to take a closer look at the existing R6 zoning where buildings can range from a single story to 22 stories tall.
In the upland area, surrounding parts of the Gowanus Canal, the city proposes a mixed-use zoning of medium to light manufacturing and residential buildings. For the vacant city-owned site, at the corner of Smith and 5th Streets known as Public Place, the rezoning aims to facilitate redevelopment for affordable housing.
For the Canal corridor, it proposes the zoning for M1 districts to typically include light industrial uses, such as woodworking shops, repair shops, and wholesale service and storage facilities, according to DCP. For residential areas, it proposes a R7-2 zoning which are medium-density apartment buildings common in the Bronx and the Upper West Side.
The scope says the city will study the project’s impacts on five principal issues of concern, encompassing the direct or indirect displacement of residents, businesses or institutions and “adverse effects on specific industries.”
“The Gowanus Neighborhood Rezoning is an opportunity to build a more affordable, integrated, vibrant, and sustainable community than the one we have today. There are understandable reasons for the resistance that people feel to rezonings. And we still have substantial work to do. But as someone who’s spent my whole career fighting for livable neighborhoods and community-based planning, I genuinely believe we have a chance to get the balance right here,” said Lander. “Gowanus is the first MIH neighborhood re-zoning proposed for a wealthier neighborhood. Unlike some of the other MIH neighborhoods so far, there’s relatively little risk of displacing current low-income tenants.”
Lander said there are many components to the rezoning to be optimistic about but believes there are some issues which remain unaddressed so far in the study process, such as help for the Gowanus, Wyckoff Gardens, and Warren Street NYCHA complexes. The influx of over 8,000 new apartments will need to be supplemented with new school capacity projects, he adds: “We’ll need many more seats and new transit investments, too. We can sustain this growth, but only if we provide the infrastructure.”
The councilmember also said dozens of buildings identified by the Gowanus Landmarking Coalition are “worth preserving.” There is also the need to create more opportunities for businesses to thrive in the neighboring Industrial Business Zone.
“I’ll continue pushing, together with community leaders, as the rezoning moves through the public review process,” Lander said, “we can create a real model for an integrated neighborhood, with diverse schools, and a vibrant community life, right in-between Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, in the heart of brownstone Brooklyn.”