The Daily Dirt: Another hurdle to the Gowanus rezoning

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New York /
May.May 07, 2021 08:00 PM

Community groups wanted a judge to halt the Gowanus rezoning — again — until it was clear if hearings could be held as usual. That is, in-person and indoors.

This week, Voice of Gowanus and other groups asked Judge Katherine Levine to reinstate a temporary restraining order or issue an injunction barring the rezoning from moving forward. The parties argued that several pandemic capacity restrictions are slated to be lifted later this month, and executive orders suspending open public meeting rules would likely follow.

Levine didn’t exactly comply with the request. Instead, she signed an order on Friday laying out the terms of a joint hearing to be held by Community Boards 2 and 6, scheduled for June 3, and froze the Ulurp clock until she approves a more detailed plan for the hearing, which was also filed Friday. She also left the door open to throwing out that plan and instead coordinating with the city to hold the hearings the old-fashioned way in the event the city and state lift the related restrictions.

The community groups touted the judge’s order and cautioned that “there is much more to be determined amidst the roiling clouds of uncertainty hovering over the Gowanus Canal.”

“Both the Governor and Mayor have said the City is ready to open up again,” Jason Zakai, an attorney for the groups, said in a statement. “There is no reason why the critical public hearings on the much-debated Gowanus project should remain stuck on limited platforms such as Zoom, which severely impair public participation in the rezoning process, while the rest of the City goes back to having in-person gatherings.”

The city expects the hearing on June 3 to move forward as planned.

“While it may be technically true that there is another hoop that needs to be jumped before the notice of the public hearing can be given, it is whistling in the dark for anyone to think that is not going to happen,” said Kenneth Fisher, an attorney who represents another party in the case that supports the rezoning.

Anyway, I hope that clears up any confusion over what exactly happened with this case today. The shorter version is: The city plans to hold a hearing in a park alongside a virtual proceeding, the lawsuit is ongoing and the rezoning is expected to move forward (as things currently stand). If the judge doesn’t approve the more detailed plans quickly, however, that could complicate the city’s goal of completing the rezoning before the end of the de Blasio administration. Time is running out!

What we’re thinking about: What do you think of Andrew Yang’s plan to raise taxes on vacant commercial lots? Send a note to [email protected].

A thing we’ve learned…

According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, bankruptcy filings in 2020 decreased by 29.7 percent from the previous year. Thank you to Sasha Jones for passing along this tidbit!

CLOSING TIME

Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded Friday was $7.4 million for a condo at 111 Murray Street in Tribeca.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was $19 million for an office building at 14 Vesey Street in Tribeca.

NEW TO THE MARKET

The priciest residence to hit the market was a co-op at 730 Park Avenue in Lenox Hill at $15.25 million. Compass has the listing.
— Research by Orion Jones

Elsewhere in New York

— The NYPD is sending volunteer auxiliary officers to 20 of the city’s busiest subway stops, Gothamist reports. The officers are “trained to observe and report conditions requiring the services of the regular police,” according to the police department. The change follows two attacks on train conductors this week.

— The bodies of 750 New Yorkers who died during the pandemic are still being kept in refrigerated trucks at Brooklyn’s 39th Street Pier, The City reports. According to Dina Maniotis, a deputy commissioner with the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, most of the families of the deceased have said that they prefer to have their loved ones moved to Hart Island, the city’s potter’s field, or have stopped communicating with city officials.

— The city is launching a $25 million program to put artists back to work, the New York Times reports. The program, dubbed the City Artist Corps, will pay artists, musicians and other performers to create works across the city.


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