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Gowanus Rezoning Update

by Elana Kapul

There seems to be light at the end of the tunnel for a new Brooklyn project, the Gowanus Rezoning Plan. This venture is the city’s effort to revitalize the mainly-industrial neighborhood of Gowanus by adding more affordable housing, along with modern new developments. Several City Council Members, as well as Mayor Bill de Blasio, are pushing for the project as they hope to certify the rezoning plan by January.

According to a press release from the NYC Department of City Planning titled, “DCP Announces Innovative Infrastructure Measures to Support Gowanus Neighborhood Plan”, the department initiated the Gowanus Rezoning Plan in an effort to bring “affordable housing, arts and culture, brownfield remediation, new parks, a strong industrial sector, waterfront access and more” to the neighborhood. Currently, the Gowanus Canal carries the effects of the neighborhood’s industrial background; the water is polluted and flooding is a tangible risk. This redevelopment plan is supposed to include new infrastructures that would help keep the Gowanus Canal cleaner and create a nicer living environment, the press release explains. The new and ambitious rezoning hopes to revive Gowanus into an area that integrates a diverse community of individuals and families. Affordable housing is an incredibly important part of the redevelopment plan for Gowanus, and for the city. The rezoning attempts to remedy some of the housing issues that New Yorkers face today, while simultaneously contributing to the revitalization of community areas. The press release states that the plan intends on the creation of “an estimated 8,000 new homes, 3,000 of them affordable” as well as new parks and schools. Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council Members Stephen Levin and Brad Lander, as well as the city’s Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, Vicki Been, are some of the forces in support of this rezoning plan to proceed and be certified by January so it can begin the ULURP process.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, many current proposals have been held off, including the Gowanus Rezoning Plan. However, now begins the rushed effort to proceed. This would be Mayor Bill de Blasio’s last chance to 15 / create more affordable housing in New York City before his term ends, and this effort has been heightened significantly by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The “NYC Department of City Planning and Council Members Lander and Levin Release ‘‘Gowanus Framework’’ press release states, “The Framework lays out goals and strategies that the community created to help transform the neighborhood into a resilient, sustainable and more affordable Gowanus for residents and businesses.”

One of the ventures as a part of the rezoning plan is Gowanus Green — a project that will bring more affordable housing, green public spaces, and new infrastructure to the neighborhood. A press release by the New York City Housing and Preservation Development titled, “HPD Announces 100 Percent Affordable Housing Project in Gowanus”, reveals the new plans for Gowanus Green, and all of the amenities it will offer to residents. The press release states, “The 950 affordable units from the Gowanus Green project will anchor the neighborhood with an influx of housing while creating 80,000 square feet for a new school, nearly 30,000 square feet of commercial and community space, and 1.5 acres of accessible and resilient waterfront open space along the canal.” The plan includes revitalizing the open area around the canal in order to create this waterfront park, as well as adding new infrastructure to prevent flooding. The proposed space for a new school is supposed to enhance the community programs, as well as provide learning opportunities for children — all aspects of the expected growth in population as a result of these development projects.

The Gowanus Rezoning Plan will introduce more affordable housing and community spaces, as well as upgrade the current buildings and redevelop the waterfront area. Proponents of the plan hope to see it reach the ULURP process by January of 2021. This ambitious rezoning intends to revitalize the previously-industrial area of Gowanus into an enriching neighborhood for a diverse, and expanding, community population.