The Real Deal New York

Hudson Companies to develop Public Place in Gowanus

April 16, 2008 03:36PM
By Sarah Ryley

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The Hudson Companies has been chosen by the city to develop 774 apartments and a park on Public Place, a six-acre contaminated site along the Gowanus Canal, the city announced today.

The project’s size could grow by 500 apartments if a private property owner directly to the south joins in, a likely possibility, Hudson principal Michael Wadman told The Real Deal.

The Hudson-led team includes the Bluestone Organization, Fifth Avenue Committee, Jonathan Rose Companies and the Gowanus Canal Conservancy.

Hudson, which beat out a joint venture by The Related Companies and Monadnock Construction, is already building in the area. Just a few blocks away, its Third & Bond project will create 44 luxury townhouse-style condominiums.

Clothing magnate Henry Abadi owns the land directly south of Public Place. He originally joined with another bidding team, led by The World-Wide Group, but decided to take “a wait-and-see approach” after their proposal was rejected, Wadman said. 

Wadman said that the city wants Abadi’s land included because it would already be dug up anyway during the clean-up effort, and a joint venture or buyout would likely result in more affordable housing on the four-acre site.

David Kramer, who’s leading the Third & Bond project, said the firm knows the area well because its offices were there for 15 years, on land owned by Monadnock Construction. Hudson moved to the Union Square area last year.
Hudson’s office was across the street from Third & Bond, on land owned by Monadnock Construction, which had teamed with The Related Companies’ bid.

Several Hudson employees live nearby in Park Slope and Carroll Gardens.
Gowanus “feels quiet and off the beaten track, and on the other hand is very close to all the city services and urban fabric,” said Kramer.

“There’s relatively little product in Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens to compete against and none of it is very big,” said Wadman. He added that although a lot of new apartments are going up on the other side of the canal, Fourth Avenue is a less pleasant front yard than the canal, Smith and Bond Streets.  Both the Third & Bond project and Public Place are steps away from transit lines near Smith Street’s trendy restaurant and retail strip. 

Of the 774 apartments planned for Public Place, 541 would be below market-rate,, including 120 reserved for the area’s growing senior population, according to the city’s Housing and Preservation Development department, the lead agency on the project.

The canal-side public park, just over two acres, would join a waterfront esplanade, which Wadman estimated the Department of City Planning requested to be 70 feet wide.

City Planning’s Brooklyn director, Purnima Kapur, told The Real Deal recently that public waterfront access would be a requirement for the 15 canal-side blocks that could be rezoned for housing. 

But Public Place may not be the first residential project off the ground. Wadman said it would take years to pour a foundation there. First, National Grid needs to start decontaminating the soil. Wadman said conversations with lenders wouldn’t start until the cleanup has made substantial progress.

In the meantime, Toll Brothers has submitted a rezoning request to build 447 apartments just north of Third & Bond, a process that has just started. Only manufacturing and industrial uses are now allowed around the canal.
Both Wadman and David von Spreckelsen, senior vice president at Toll Brothers City Living, said they’ve canoed the canal.

“It’s really a lovely view,” Wadman said. “Basically the more people that are on it the more likely it is to get cleaned up.”

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