City Planning gives Gowanus rezoning the go-ahead

Controversial proposal now heads to City Council for a vote

A sketch of the proposed view from North 3rd Street and the current view (New York City Planning, Google Maps)
A sketch of the proposed view from North 3rd Street and the current view (New York City Planning, Google Maps)

The Gowanus rezoning is one step closer to a final vote.

The City Planning Commission signed off on the proposal Wednesday, meaning that the controversial plan will now head to the City Council.

The 82-block rezoning would pave the way for a little more than 8,500 new apartments, 3,000 of which would be set aside for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers. While the proposal has support among elected officials, a key obstacle of the rezoning could remain: The de Blasio administration is still negotiating with the City Council over funding for upgrades to public housing complexes in the neighborhood.

Support from Council members Brad Lander and Steve Levin hinges on the commitment of at least $132 million for Gowanus Houses and Wyckoff Gardens. So far, City Hall has pitched only a fraction of that sum to cover the cost of certain repairs.

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Last month, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams voiced support for the rezoning, provided the city pledges $274 million for repairs at the New York City Housing Authority complexes over the next five years. He also recommended that public housing residents be given the first opportunity to live in the new affordable apartments built under the rezoning.

Opponents of the proposal argue that it will lead to an influx of new luxury towers and that the neighborhood’s sewer system cannot handle the volume of new residents. Voice of Gowanus, one of the community groups that temporarily halted the rezoning’s progress during the pandemic with a lawsuit, has called for a more rigorous environmental impact study of the neighborhood plan.

As expected, the commission rejected Continuum Company’s plans for a residential tower at 960 Franklin Avenue. The developer filed a lawsuit this week seeking to prevent the vote from moving forward.

Wednesday’s meeting was run by Vice Chair Kenneth Knuckles, who is serving as acting chair of the City Planning Commission. Marisa Lago left her position as chair and director of the Department of City Planning last week after President Biden nominated her to serve as under secretary of commerce for international trade, a City Planning spokesperson confirmed Wednesday. Mayor Bill de Blasio has not yet named Lago’s successor.

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