View Full Version : Gowanus Village

November 13th, 2004, 10:08 PM
November 14, 2004


The Banks of the Gowanus Put the Gleam in a Builder's Eye


There is a strange beauty to sunset on the Gowanus Canal, when the blue film on the surface of the notorious waterway catches the sunlight streaming past the elevated trains at just the right angle. For a second, an optimistic visitor can ignore the pungent aroma and the odd plastic bag floating by - after all, the waterway is much cleaner than it was a few years ago - and begin to imagine staying awhile.

Such a visitor might enjoy living in Gowanus Village, a collection of loft buildings and townhouses on the east bank of the canal that, at the moment, exists only in a few developers' imaginations. But to the chagrin of opponents, and one of the developers, the proposal recently slipped into view.

A few weeks ago, e-mail messages began directing interested parties to the Web site of Africa Israel Investments Ltd., an Israeli-based firm that was touting 350 condominiums and apartments on three acres between Carroll and Third Streets. The approximate completion date, according to the Web site, was 2007.

That came as a surprise to people in the neighborhood, where opinions about the canal's future are strongly held.

"We really don't have any information about it," said Jeanne DiLascio, director of the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit group. "That is being done by a group that we're not aware of."

As it turned out, the idea originated close to home. The property, at 430 Carroll Street and 153 Second Street, belongs to Leviev Boymelgreen, a Brooklyn development company that has been working with Africa Israel on preliminary plans. And those plans, people at Boymelgreen stress, are very preliminary.

"Information released by our partners relative to Gowanus Village is a reflection of their excitement about the potentiality of the project," said Sara Mirski, development director at Boymelgreen. "This information is in no way indicative of what will ultimately be developed on the site."

Ms. Mirski said any residential construction would require a zoning change, which would be the subject of public discussion as part of the city's land use review process. She called the release of the plans "disconcerting," and said she had asked Africa Israel to take the Web page down. On Friday, the Web site said the Gowanus Village entry "will be updated shortly.''

Still, the wheels of change are in motion: The developers have applied to the state Department of Environmental Conservation's brownfield cleanup program, which offers tax breaks for developments on polluted sites.

Meanwhile, Jean Herold, a Verizon worker who was standing near the site and waiting for a ride home, was skeptical that Gowanus Village, if it happens, would succeed.

"This is an industrial area," he said, as traffic roared in the background. "I don't see it."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

November 13th, 2004, 10:27 PM
It's been on their site for a long time. I don't know what the fuss is about.

March 21st, 2005, 08:37 PM
Posted by Stern

March 20, 2005
Ah, the Gowanus! Where You Can Walk on Water

SOMETIME in 2000, a Brooklyn businessman named Alex Figliolia Sr. called his local community board to ask about the procedure for buying the strip of land behind his plumbing company, on the east bank of the Gowanus Canal.

Craig Hammerman, the Community Board 6 district manager who took the call, consulted his map and returned to the phone with puzzling news. "I said: 'What land in the back of your building? There's supposed to be a body of water there,' " Mr. Hammerman recalled last week. "And he said, 'There's only land here.' "

So began the latest chapter in the strange history of the First Street Basin, a blocklong stretch of canal that one day somehow ceased to be canal. The waterway, which was originally used so boats traveling on the canal's main section could turn around, was filled in at some point, as anyone who has seen it can agree. But who filled it, or, perhaps more important, what they filled it with, remains a mystery.

The question took on more relevance recently, when Mr. Figliolia's property and an adjacent parcel - that is, all the land surrounding the basin - were bought by the development firm Leviev Boymelgreen, which hopes to build a residential complex called Gowanus Village. The company is seeking state money to evaluate and clean up its property, but not the basin, which it says the city owns.

Even the basin's ownership is a little hard to determine exactly. When Mr. Hammerman inquired into the matter, he was referred to the city's Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which oversaw a cleanup of the land in 2003. But Marlene Donnelly, a canal neighbor who belongs to Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus, says the basin should be considered part of the larger canal, and thus state property.

Mr. Hammerman, for his part, believes that the basin's condition is a symptom of its nebulous ownership. "This is a crack that things are falling between," he said, adding that he planned to contact the federal government to help sort things out.

Meanwhile, several of the involved parties are eyeing one another warily. Ms. Donnelly said she and other residents wanted the basin dredged, cleaned and reopened as a waterway. Mark Daly, the spokesman for the administrative services department, said there were no plans to do that, but noted that the developers had approached his office about using the land. Sara Mirski, the Boymelgreen staff member handling the project, told a community board subcommittee the basin was the city's responsibility, but did not return calls seeking comment.

All the while, the First Street Basin Canal remains a dusty patch of land, one of the oddest sections of a waterway with a notoriously checkered past. Some say the basin got to its present state when part of a nearby building was demolished and buried there; others say the fill is from the digging of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. Some say the water became land in the 1970's and 80's; others say it was decades earlier.

At the very least, Mr. Hammerman said, whoever owns the stretch should find out what is in it and how it will affect the neighbors. And they should change the maps.


Ten Arquitectos

March 21st, 2005, 11:32 PM
This would be amazing, and just what the Gowanus needs. Venice anyone?

March 22nd, 2005, 03:57 PM
Good idea, but the architecture is too piecy and timed for me. The design will not age well.

March 22nd, 2005, 04:39 PM
I hate to out a wet blanket on this design, but the "industrial" part of the eastside on the Gowanus only penetrates one block. Then, it is row houses (and Monte's restaurant). This design is totally, totally, inconsistent, out of context and insensitive to the its surroundings. This is fine for the barren new development areas of South Williamsburg, but it is not a good design for the site they are talking about. For crying out loud, there's an historic wood plank bridge right across the canal there on Carroll Street. This is just all wrong.

March 22nd, 2005, 04:43 PM
I hate to out a wet blanket on this design, but the "industrial" part of the eastside on the Gowanus only penetrates one block. Then, it is row houses (and Monte's restaurant). This design is totally, totally, inconsistent, out of context and insensitive to the its surroundings. This is fine for the barren new development areas of South Williamsburg, but it is not a good design for the site they are talking about. For crying out loud, there's an historic wood plank bridge right across the canal there on Carroll Street. This is just all wrong.

New architcture helps us better appreciate the old architecture. Typical Park Slope contextual crap would be horrible along the Gowanus. I like the progressive, modernist design. It reminds me of some of the newer developments along canals in Amsterdam.

March 27th, 2005, 05:59 PM
New architcture helps us better appreciate the old architecture. Typical Park Slope contextual crap would be horrible along the Gowanus. I like the progressive, modernist design. It reminds me of some of the newer developments along canals in Amsterdam.

Ehhh, i don't think that the designs are that good. Im not a big fan of boxy buildings and ugly window patterns

March 27th, 2005, 06:13 PM
Ehhh, i don't think that the designs are that good. Im not a big fan of boxy buildings and ugly window patterns

It reminds me of Safdie's Habitat. I AM A HUGE HUGE HUGE fan of chaos if its designed to the city context because a city itself is very chaotic. However if its Chaos for the sake of chaos and it acts against the city, the results can be devistating such as Roosevelt Island or Waterside. I think that a chaotic design development would be in tune with the industry and infastructure that characterize the Gowanus Canal.

November 28th, 2005, 01:13 AM
November 28, 2005

From Open Sewer to Open for Gentrification

Daniel Barry for The New York Times

The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, seen from the Union Street Bridge

By JOSEPH BERGER (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=JOSEPH BERGER&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=JOSEPH BERGER&inline=nyt-per)

The Gowanus Canal often stinks and is almost always spotted with slicks of oil.

The streets alongside it are practically deserted, the silence broken by the rumble of concrete mixers and oil tankers or the screech of buzz saws. Graffiti abounds, and no one would use the word harmonious for the landscape, where ramshackle wood-frame and brick row houses are tucked higgledy-piggledy among factories, warehouses and two housing projects.

Yet many of the 14,500 people whose homes flank the canal love the neighborhood's jagged, anarchic feel and do not want to see its industrial character nibbled away. At a time when neighborhoods like Dumbo, Long Island City and the Far West Side of Manhattan have largely been welcoming the conversion of factories into lofts for artists and, eventually, movers and shakers, these residents want to preserve a vanishing urban way of life where lunch-bucket workers lived among their

"To me, it's comfortable. It's not phony, it's not pristine," said Linda Mariano, 61, who has lived in a brick row house in Gowanus with her husband since 1974. "It's a mishmash, and I like the variety. You take two steps and you're someplace else."

But in recent years, residents of this slender neighborhood squeezed amid brownstone Brooklyn have faced a number of proposals, some of them successful, to convert Gowanus factories and warehouses into residential spaces. As the inky waters of the mile-long canal have gotten cleaner, drawing striped bass and canoeists alike, landlords sniffing the winds of change - and the higher prices they can command for dwellings - are holding industrial properties off the market or offering their tenants the briefest of leases. Rents and home prices have soared, particularly as available industrial space has been eaten away.

So the working-class residents who do not want a neighborhood of oil depots, brass factories and workers' homes transformed by apartments with Sub-Zero refrigerators and Viking ranges have formed impromptu groups like Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus, or Frogg, to which Ms. Mariano belongs. They have been joined in opposing new conversions by sympathizers elsewhere like Celia Cacace, a resident of neighboring Carroll Gardens who is proud of her family's blue-collar stripes.

"My sister Linda worked in Bush Terminal making envelopes," said Ms. Cacace, who is 69 and a member of Community Planning Board 6, the local board that makes recommendations on granting zoning variances in Gowanus. "My brother Ralphie worked cleaning septic tanks in ships. Tony, he's the one born before me, he got a job in Long Island City for a sheet metal factory. My sister Esther, she passed away, she worked for American Can Company."

She wants the hundreds of factories in Gowanus and nearby Red Hook to be able to provide jobs for a new generation of immigrants, and for the housing that is there to remain within the workers' reach. "They call it gentrification, I call it genocide," she said. "They're killing neighborhoods."

So far, the opponents have successfully blocked requests for variances to convert a four-story warehouse at 255 Butler Street into a 6-story building with 53 apartments, replace a graffiti-scarred plant at 450 Union Street with a 7-story condo building, and convert an export-import company at 130 Third Street to apartments.

Their biggest battle may be yet to come. They are gearing up to fight one of the city's more well-heeled development firms, a venture of the billionaire diamond entrepreneur Lev Leviev and the builder Shaya Boymelgreen. In preliminary proposals, the developers plan to tear down a factory and dig out a contaminated brownfield to create Gowanus Village, an apartment complex made up of loft buildings and town houses. The plan would require zoning changes.

Frogg and its allies are defying powerful trends that view Gowanus as a reinvigorated residential bridge from Park Slope on the east to Carroll Gardens on the west and Boerum Hill on the northwest. Already, a 100-room Comfort Inn is rising on the edge of Gowanus, and Whole Foods has cleared a nearly square-block space at Third Street for a Brooklyn market. Gowanus is also less than a half-mile away from the Atlantic railyards, where the developer Bruce C. Ratner has proposed building a basketball arena for the Nets and 16 buildings with 7,300 apartments.

"The basic law of economics is to seek maximum return on investment, and typically that means residential development," said Craig Hammerman, the district manager of Community Board 6, which covers Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Park Slope, Gowanus and Red Hook.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/michael_r_bloomberg/index.html?inline=nyt-per) announced a new policy last January for safeguarding manufacturing that designated 15 Industrial Business Zones in neighborhoods like Long Island City and Hunts Point. These areas would be protected from rezoning, and companies relocating there would receive tax credits of $1,000 for each employee. Southwest Brooklyn was one of the 15 designees.

But the maps being drafted so far include only southern Gowanus, not the blocks north of Third Street where residential conversions have been proposed.

Carl Hum, director of the Mayor's Office of Industrial and Manufacturing Businesses, said that with the city's population growing, officials must strike a balance between places to live and places to work.

Not everybody in the Gowanus area opposes more housing. Sandra Mineo, a longtime homeowner, thinks forlorn properties should be gussied up - even if that means making them residential. "I'd rather see something done with it than nothing done with it," she said.

Buddy Scotto, founder of Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit group subsidized by the state and city, has been pressing for converting buildings into housing for the elderly and moderate-income families. He and others argue that manufacturers today shun Gowanus, preferring tall, one-story spaces without columns that block pallet-bearing forklifts.

"These industrial buildings are obsolete," he said. "Nobody wants to load elevators anymore."

As Gowanus becomes residential, he envisions the canal, which he says is scarcely used for shipping, being turned into Brooklyn's version of the Riverwalk in San Antonio. Already, new benches are dotting its banks, striped bass and jellyfish swim there and cormorants perch alongside.

But Phaedra Thomas and Rachel Dubin of the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation, which helps manufacturers seek tax abatements, argue that Gowanus industry is still vibrant. The group's survey last April counted 500 industrial firms, a 25 percent rise since 1997, and 3,000 employees. They found that only 3 percent of industrial spaces were vacant.

Citywide, manufacturing continues to decline. The State Department of Labor counted only 120,492 industrial employees in the second quarter of 2004, and noted that 98,300 jobs had been lost since 1995. What remains are mostly light-industry companies, with fewer than 50 employees, that depend on designers, publishers and other professionals in Manhattan, said Adam Friedman, executive director of the New York Industrial Retention Network. Neighborhoods like Gowanus could provide the rentable spaces and highway access these smaller concerns desire. But they have difficulty finding long-term leases there.

Even without variances, landlords are finding illegal tenants to live in their lofts or seeking out artists and artisans to work in the lofts, trends that often presage eventual conversion to residences. Two years ago, a group of artists bought a box factory at 543 Union Street for $3.1 million and legally converted it into 16 studios. Twelve artists live in a former factory building at 280 Nevins Street that was legally converted in 1986.

One of those is Margaret Maugenest, who moved from SoHo in 1984. Now that she is in Gowanus, she wants to make sure the neighborhood stays the way it is.

"SoHo was an interesting neighborhood," she said. "You had the trucks and the rag industry. You had the artists, who are workers also because that's what we are. Now you have a neighborhood that doesn't have much character."

There are so many artists in Gowanus now that in October, 115 of them took part in the annual Gowanus Artists Studio Tour.

The drift to upscale housing is clear to people who have seen it all before. Jozef Koppelman, a cabinetmaker in a former garage on Baltic Street, has had his small firm pushed successively out of SoHo, Hell's Kitchen, Williamsburg, Chelsea and Dumbo, and now worries about being pressured out of Gowanus.

"I'm a textbook example," he said. "I think about how many buildings I've worked in that now have a doorman."

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

November 28th, 2005, 02:20 AM
"They call it gentrification, I call it genocide," she said. "They're killing neighborhoods."

I call that word assassination.

November 28th, 2005, 10:45 AM
It's a tough call. The canal bulkheads are in such poor condition and access to the water is rather limited. It would be great to see a compromise. But, it is heartening to see people speak up and state that they LIKE they mish-mash and low-brow feel. It is an interesting place to visit, but development is encroaching.

November 28th, 2005, 11:18 PM
Ahhhh the Gowanus canal took many a boyhood trip down the Brooklyn version of the Delaware water gap.

I just happen to grow up in that area, lived on Carroll Street between Hoyt and smith also lived on Hoyt between president and carol not to mention President Street between Hoyt and smith

Neighborhood was good then people worked in the area, my father and uncles worked for American can co on 2nd ave for their whole lives, my grandfather worked the docks in red hook the whole damn family was blue collar and never went more than 5 miles to work and my summers were spent in the red hook pool.

That neighborhood now is a yuppie paradise; the ethnic flavor has long gone for bohemian food, star bucks and trendy little bars. long gone is Columbia street vendors who used to hawk anything and everything imaginable. Carroll Park necking with your girlfriend long gone is the ILA

As for buddy Scotto, know him well and I take anything he says with a big grain of salt, the elderly in that area haven’t a chance to stay with their friends who for many is the only family they have no matter what he says.

My family has been in that neighborhood for generations and they still live there, rents are outrageous for anyone including the yuppies that live there, I see Ryder and u haul trucks there every weekend moving out and moving in.

The main pastime is reserving spots on alternate side of the street parking; my friend’s father who still lives there considers it a retirement job.

The neighborhood is beautiful the carol street bridge old as it may be is the oldest around and I kissed many a girl on that bridge.

Being an industrial designer myself the renderings of the buildings this company has presented as preliminary is an insult to esthetic taste. A salt box if anything.

More fitting would be something in brownstone townhouses then what they propose to build there. I could tell you tons about that neighborhood I have many many fond memories living there it’s a shame that people who are trying to line their own pockets are trying to sell a real crappy idea.

Oh one more thing, they may call it carol gardens but to me and many like me its still has one name Gowanus…I lived in Gowanus

March 2nd, 2006, 05:20 PM
They need to clean up the canal, bring residential, restaurants, shops, galleries, parks, and make it beautiful. The canal area could be a modern treasure instead of a poisonous eyesore visited only by neighborhood nostalgics and a few photographers.
The industrial buildings are obsolete for their original use. Plain and simple. Make them live again with another use, and intersperse them with cutting edge architecture.
Those neighborhood people, so proud of the projects they've already blocked, are living in a fantasyland if they think they can block the coming changes. Development will happen along the canal, I am sure of it.

I can't wait to enjoy a meal there, on a flowered-terrace cafe along the canal.

March 2nd, 2006, 05:36 PM
They need to clean up the canal, bring residential, restaurants, shops, galleries, parks, and make it beautiful.
There is a pumping system inside the canal - that has been broken for years - and has been fixed. This recent development will help clean-up the water.

I used to vistit a friend who lived in a small building at the very end of the canal (see skyview). It was near some housing projects called "Gowans Houses". This is many years ago - I recall this area as being somewhat bleak looking.

There are great possibilites for this area once the water is cleaned-up. http://www.southbrooklyn.net/gowanus/gc02a.htm


March 2nd, 2006, 05:55 PM
The water circulation mechanism was restarted in 1999 (http://www.hazenandsawyer.com/projects/project_gcwqip.htm).

March 2nd, 2006, 06:46 PM
The water circulation mechanism was restarted in 1999 (http://www.hazenandsawyer.com/projects/project_gcwqip.htm).

I stand corrected.....Since the system has been broken for over 40 years: mabe this can pass as a "somewhat" recent improvement. (l-o-l)

Thank Ryan for the correction and the link to the article on the pump.


January 21st, 2007, 08:46 AM
Brooklyn Broadside:

Gowanus: Not a Big Brownfield, But the Next Development Area

by Dennis Holt (edit@brooklyneagle.net), published online 01-19-2007

BROOKLYN — One of the more interesting Brooklyn development stories for 2007 may well not involve much physical building, and could be more like getting the stage ready for several scene changes to come in several acts yet to be written.

Getting the stage ready will be the challenging task of the Brooklyn office of City Planning, now headed by Purnima Kapur. The stage is Gowanus and involves the serious job of rezoning this large parcel of property.

The mention of Gowanus usually brings forth a bevy of one-liners like, “You mean the smelly canal?” or, ‘The big brownfield?” or “Where’s that?” or “What about it?”

Seldom do you hear people making note that the western part of Gowanus, which in some places reaches Court Street, believe it or not, looks very much like a lot of other brownstone neighborhoods, and actually has its own movie house.

Most people will also not mention that it is the largest underdeveloped area left in Brooklyn, stretching from Warren Street to Hamilton Avenue and parts of Court and Smith streets to Fourth Avenue. The purpose of the rezoning study for the Gowanus area is to create as much reason and order as possible so that future development produces the most benefits with the least problems. That is a tall order, but achievable.

The underlining issue with Gowanus, especially east of the canal, is that it suffers from “earth warming,” the widespread practice until recently of disposing of unwanted materials by throwing them into the nearest body of water or burying them in the earth.

Eastern Gowanus is polluted, to various extents and levels, and that fact influences the area’s development. Nothing, legally, can be built overnight, and so far, the experience has been that nothing can be built on the cheap. Just ask those who built Lowe’s and the people who are building Whole Foods.

But that hard truth will not, by itself, dictate zoning policy or decisions. The pressure on City Planning, sure to be the subject of appropriate public hearings, probably later in the year, will come from developers who will want as much latitude as possible and from those who want as much space as possible reserved for industrial uses.

These kinds of forces have already collided in Red Hook and have appeared in discussions about the future of Piers 7 to 12. They are part of the ongoing saga in Greenpoint-Williamsburg, even with the rezoning in place.

Contributing to the key issue mix are those advocating for a fair share of affordable housing in Gowanus. The more industry that exists, the less affordable housing can be built. And unless there is a sharp change in governmental policies, affordable housing depends on market-rate housing to take place so that affordable units can piggyback.

The Fourth Avenue rezoning is already influencing that subject, with several 12-story units being built in Gowanus. The same kind of zoning strategy is also likely for Third Avenue.

So, the drama in 2007 will be making choices about what to zone where. It will be a fascinating subject to follow, since it will show what can happen when the public and private sectors talk to each other using the same language.

© Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2006

Main Office 718 422 7400

July 19th, 2007, 07:05 PM
Public Process Begins: City Seeks Developer for Gowanus Canal Site
Public Place at 5th and Smith Streets to Have Residential, Commercial and Community Space, Landscaped Open Areas

07-19-2007 (http://www.brooklyneagle.com/categories/category.php?category_id=5&id=14187)

GOWANUS — The long-awaited public process involving a large publicly-owned site along the Gowanus Canal has been launched.

The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking a developer for what is to be a major mixed-use project including community and commercial space as well as an estimated 400 units of housing and large amounts of landscaped open space, particularly along the canal itself.

HPD Commissioner Shaun Donovan, in announcing the release of the RFP yesterday, said the site — known as “Public Place” — is roughly 5.8 acres of land at the southeast corner of 5th and Smith streets and the canal.
At least half of the 400 units (rental or co-op) will be affordable to low-, moderate-, and middle-income families, as well as a significant component set aside for low-income seniors, according to Donovan.

“The RFP is part of Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to integrate the Gowanus Canal corridor with the vibrant surrounding communities of Carroll Gardens and Park Slope through redevelopment of underutilized land into spaces for residents, local business and community groups to call home,” said Donovan. “The RFP is the result of a lengthy community visioning process in which community residents, community-based organization leaders, elected officials and staff from HPD and other city agencies all participated.”

The affordable housing will be part of the mayor’s $7.5 billion New Housing Marketplace Plan to build or preserve 165,000 units of affordable housing over 10 years. As of July 2007, the affordable housing plan has already financed nearly 65,000 units of affordable housing.

Vacant Brownfield Eyesore

“Public Place has lain vacant for far too long and its cleanup and redevelopment will remove an eyesore from this neighborhood,” said Donovan.
“Now, not only will this development provide new commercial space, dynamic new community resources and necessary affordable housing, it will do so in a way that sets a precedent for future developments by integrating sustainable design features with affordability.”

Said Jerry Armer, at-large member of the city’s Public Place Task Force and former chair of Brooklyn Community Board 6, “The whole Gowanus community is eager to see something positive happen at the Public Place site, which has been a forlorn, contaminated brownfield for more than a generation. A mixed-use and open space development approach that takes advantage of the opportunities to create more public parkland and green space with waterfront access seems to have the broadest community appeal and support. With continued leadership from the city’s administration we have every reason to be optimistic.”

Selection Based on Design, Sustainability, Affordability

The designated development team will be selected based on an evaluation of innovative architectural design, professional qualifications and experience — including green development experience, feasibility of the proposal, affordability, and quality of design and construction, as well as other factors noted in the RFP.

Pre-Submission Conference

A pre-submission conference will be held at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, July 31, at HPD. Responses to the RFP are due by hand in person no later than 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11.

Electronic versions are available at www.nyc.gov/hpd. Hard copies can be purchased at HPD for a $75 non-refundable fee as a certified check or money order payable to the New York City Department of Finance.

© Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2007

February 14th, 2008, 07:05 PM
From The Gowanus Lounge (http://gowanuslounge.blogspot.com/2008/02/starting-bell-toll-brothers-reveal.html):

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Starting Bell: Toll Brothers Reveal Gowanus Plans


The Toll Brothers have revealed plans for their unnamed development on the banks of the Gowanus Canal. The plans are in a "scoping" document filed with the Department of City Planning. The developers are looking to rezone a three-acre property between the Canal, Bond Street, Carroll Street and Second Street as a "special mixed use district" in advance of an overall Gowanus rezoning. The plan includes buildings ranging from 4-12 stories in height, with the tallest structure (125 feet) being near the canal. There would be 577 units of housing, 447 of them market rate and 130 of them affordable. The overall project would total 605,380 square feet and include 260 underground parking spaces. There would be 2,000 square feet of "community space" and 2,000 square feet of retail. It includes 3 acres. .6 acres of publicly accessbile waterfront. The very end of First Street where it dead ends at the canal would be "demapped" to allow for a continuous "waterfront esplanade." The scoping document lays out plans for an environmental impact study and other things necessary for public review.

According to the document:
The western end of the project site, along Bond Street, would have the lower six-story component (up to approximately 60 feet). The midblock portions of the buildings would consist of four-story (43-foot-high), townhouse-style housing...

In order to ensure that project structures are not impacted by flooding, the elevation of the project site would be raised, including along First Street and the proposed esplanade. In addition, to reduce the potential for flood damage or impacts on residential structures, the lowest occupied floor elevation would be constructed above the 100-year base flood elevation...A public scoping meeting will take place on Thursday, March 13, 2008 from 2:00 to 5:45 PM and from 6:00 to 8:45 PM at the Department of City Planning, Spector Hall, 22 Reade Street. The Toll Brothers say the project would be complete in 2011.


February 18th, 2008, 07:55 PM
this project is blowing my mind. i hope it happens.

February 27th, 2008, 09:21 PM
From curbed (http://curbed.com/archives/2008/02/27/hudson_companies_gowanus_green_revealed_in_detail. php#reader_comments):

Hudson Companies 'Gowanus Green' Revealed in Detail

http://curbednetwork.com/cache/gallery/3086/2295888991_37a7ce47b0_o.jpg (http://curbed.com/archives/2008/02/27/hudson_companies_gowanus_green_revealed_in_detail. php?o=0)






This morning we had detailed renderings of the Related Companies/Monadnock proposal for Public Place. The Hudson Companies responded with detailed renderings of their proposal, called Gowanus Green. It's the work of Rogers Marvel Architects and landscape designers West 8 and Starr Whitehouse. (Rogers Marvel and West 8 put together the winning proposal for Governor's Island.) Partners in the proposal are the Bluestone Organization, Fifth Avenue Committee, and the Jonathan Rose Companies.

February 27th, 2008, 10:47 PM
luxury housing development on the gowanus freaking canal.

blowing. my. mind.

February 28th, 2008, 12:31 AM
Those renderings are a joke.

And it looks totally charmless anyway, even with the special effects.
The second to the last picture shows a streetscape depressing and charmless. Expanses of glass along the sidewalk without any sense of place, no variation in spaces and forms, my God should we be thankful for what looks like a bench on the right hand side?
Silly me, I had visions of San Antonio River Walk or a Brooklyn version of Venice in my deliroius brain all this time, and they're going to to actually make it a lame low-rise version of Battery Park City. Yay.

February 28th, 2008, 06:35 AM
midtown guy - i don't really get your reaction. i think that this is great for the area.

February 28th, 2008, 05:38 PM
What's there not to get? MTG just wants the project, being that it's a chance to start from scratch to remake the Canal, to be more ambitious and exciting than what is shown. Something that will actually draw non-residents there, a destination. I have to agree.

February 28th, 2008, 07:39 PM
i think that proposed design would draw non-residents

February 28th, 2008, 08:40 PM
I've been excited about this project for a long time ever since I read about the water quality improving. I started to be excited by all the poetic visions that some people had for it, describing it as a San Antonio RiverWalk of the East, a mini Brooklyn Venice, and so forth. So I was a bit underwhelmed by these plans because they don't seem to establish that kind of uniqueness. I would love to see restaurants and shops closer to the water's edge with seasonable outdoor tables. Evocative lighting, some real mood. I'm talkin' reflections on the water and the clinking of glasses. It really is a unique chance to do something wonderful and special. This is kind of like a boring college campus.
I'll remain hopeful that other development along the canal takes a different tone. I am disappointed by the street which looks like it will be devoid of any smaller shops or atmospheric dining, it just seems barren and uninviting.
In the Toll Brothers rendering you just see more strips of grass, trees gravel and benches lining the water. Gosh, how many grassy berms do we need in one city before someone gets the revelation that maybe we should have other things on the offerings besides sitting with a dog and a plastic water bottle. Eating a good meal, having cocktails on a waterside terrace while pleasure craft ply back and forth, artistic spaces and clubs in the old industrial buildings... you get my drift.

February 28th, 2008, 10:53 PM
i feel you. well maybe as additional development creeps along the canal we'll see more of what you envisioned - it sure does sound splendid.

should also be interesting to see how development takes shape along newtown creek - whenever that may be.

March 2nd, 2008, 09:27 AM
The water circulation mechanism was restarted in 1999 (http://www.hazenandsawyer.com/projects/project_gcwqip.htm).

And apparently it's been very successful.

Dead bodies, oildrums, garbage from 1964, these are things that you'd expect to find in the Gowanus Canal. But not a harp seal. The Times reports on the 1 year-old harp seal who has defied the laws of science by living and apparently surviving in the Gowanus. The president of the Gowanus Industrial Park, John Quadrozzi Jr. (who calls the waters of the Gowanus "pretty disgusting") saw the seal when it emerged, hurt and bloodied. The seal has been recovering Riverhead Foundation, pretty much fully recovered, though scientists will never know if the canal's conditions contributed to the seal's malnutrition. Oh, scientific process Gothamist's foot - have these scientists ever been within half a mile of the Gowanus?

The Times also mentions that the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation is adopting the seal. The GCCDC wants to name it Gowanda. Mr. Quadrozzi thinks that's a "ludicrous" name and prefers Henry. Gothamist also thinks Gowanda is ludicrous, but perhaps Henry is too staid. Let's take a page out of the Beckhams' book and name it Brooklyn! Okay, maybe not.


Love the development idea, especially the esplanade and the community access. Pity the architecture is so uninspired. It looks just like Two Trees' Court House Apartments at Court & Atlantic (so, ugly). Hopefully that will improve.

But it's a very exciting proposal for the area. I'm not far from there at all, and will look forward to biking down there for lunch someday.

April 16th, 2008, 12:34 PM

This morning the Department of Housing Preservation and Development announced in a press release (full copy on jump) that a consortium comprised of the Hudson Companies, Inc., the Bluestone Organization, the Fifth Avenue Committee and Jonathan Rose Companies was selected to redevelop the Public Place site in Gowanus. The bid, as rendered above, beat out a competing plan put together by a development team helmed by the Related Companies. Hudson's project, as currently envisioned, will involve 774 units of mixed-income housing; 615 of the apartments will be affordable to low- and middle-income families, including 120 units of low-income senior housing. Per the press release, "The mixed-use development will feature over 25,000 square feet of cultural space, 38,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and nearly 100,000 square feet of public open space located along the canal. The canal-side park, in addition to landscaped waterfront space for passive and active recreation, will feature arts and educational programming and significant recreational opportunities for the surrounding community." The site, between Smith Street and the canal, used to contain a gas manufacturing plant.


Residential and Commercial Development to Include Over 600 Units of Affordable Housing and Public Space Along the Canal

New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Shaun Donovan announced the selection today of the team chosen to design and construct a mixed-use development consisting of community, commercial, and residential spaces located along the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. The development team, the Gowanus Green Partnership, is a consortium comprised of the Hudson Companies, Inc., the Bluestone Organization, the Fifth Avenue Committee and Jonathan Rose Companies.

Marked by pioneering sustainable design in keeping with PlaNYC, Mayor Bloomberg’s plan for a greener, greater New York, the development will result in 774 units of mixed-income housing. 615 apartments will be affordable to low- and middle-income families, including 120 units of low-income senior housing. The mixed-use development will feature over 25,000 square feet of cultural space, 38,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and nearly 100,000 square feet of public open space located along the canal. The canal-side park, in addition to landscaped waterfront space for passive and active recreation, will feature arts and educational programming and significant recreational opportunities for the surrounding community. The overall development is part of the Mayor’s historic New Housing Marketplace Plan, a $7.5 billion commitment to create and preserve 165,000 units of affordable housing, over 70,000 of which have already been financed.

“I am very pleased to be able to announce the designation of a development team as strong as the Gowanus Green Partnership. Public Place has lain vacant for far too long and its cleanup and redevelopment will be a great benefit to this neighborhood,” said HPD Commissioner Shaun Donovan. “Now, thanks to the Mayor’s New Housing Marketplace Plan—a ten-year plan to create affordable housing for 500,000 New Yorkers—not only will this development provide new affordable housing, commercial space and dynamic new community resources such as the much anticipated boat house and daycare center, it will do so in a way that sets a precedent for future developments by integrating sustainable design features with an impressive level of affordability.”

Located at the southeast corner of 5th and Smith Streets and bounded to the east by the Gowanus Canal, the development is part of Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to integrate the Gowanus Canal corridor with the vibrant surrounding communities of Carroll Gardens and Park Slope. The development will serve not only to redevelop long underutilized land into spaces for residents, local business and community groups alike to call home but will also serve to clean up a brown field that has long been a blight on the surrounding neighborhood. The reclamation of brownfields is a major component of PlaNYC, acting to both “create” new land for needed development and improve the environmental quality of the surrounding neighborhoods and the City as a whole.

The selection of Gowanus Green as the development group for the Public Place site is the culmination of a lengthy community process in which community residents, community-based organization leaders, elected officials and staff from HPD and other city agencies worked together to determine what kind of development would best serve the surrounding communities as well as the City as a whole.

“After years of discussions and many failed attempts, we as a community can applaud the results of everyone involved in the effort to create a mixed-use development with an emphasis on both senior and affordable housing, housing the Carroll Gardens community desperately needs,” said Assemblywoman Joan Millman.

“This is the first step in creating an immense amount of affordable housing for the community, especially for our seniors,” said Councilmember Bill de Blasio. “I applaud HPD for working with the task force and the community to pick the best possible proposal. Now that the developer has been selected, we need to continue our dialogue with them and with the community. Throughout the ULURP process I will be following several principles of development when evaluating this project. I will look at the amount of affordable housing, the developer's level of engagement with the community, their ability to be transparent throughout the process, and their commitment to using responsible contractors. Elected officials and government agencies must also work together to evaluate what impact the project will have on the sewer system, public transportation, our public school system and other vital services.”

Totaling approximately 675,000 square feet, the residential component of the development will consist of 120 units of low-income senior housing and 654 units of mixed-income housing. Of the 654 units of mixed-income housing, 495 will be affordable to families making between 30% and 130% of HUD’s Income Limits—between $23,000 and $99,840 for a family of four or $16,100 and $87,295 for a single person. 380 of the units will be rental, while the remaining 394 will be homeownership.

The project is expected to be financed in part through The New York City Housing Development Corporation’s Low-Income Affordable Marketplace Program in addition to subsidies from the New York City Housing Trust Fund, part of the Mayor’s $7.5 billion, 165,000-unit New Housing Marketplace Plan, the largest municipal affordable housing initiative in the nation’s history. Construction on the project is anticipated to begin in spring 2010 and be completed in spring 2014.

Marc Jahr, President of the New York City Housing Development Corporation, said, “HDC is enormously pleased to participate in this ‘green’ public-private partnership. By reclaiming a brownfield for residential use, the Public Place development will serve as a catalyst for the dramatic transformation of the section of the Gowanus Canal and the creation of a new mixed income community.”

The development team was selected as a result of a Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by the City in July 2007. Of the six proposals submitted, Gowanus Green’s provided the greatest level of affordability, as well as the greatest balance between space dedicated to housing versus that dedicated to open and cultural uses. In addition, architectural partner Rogers Marvel’s focus on sustainable design is sure to qualify many of the development’s buildings for LEED Gold designation while the work of landscape architects West 8 and Starr Whitehouse will help the overall development to qualify for the pioneering LEED Neighborhood Development program.

Alan Bell, senior partner of the Hudson Companies, said on behalf of the Gowanus Green Partnership, “Our team is excited to bring its diverse talents to bear on Public Place. We look forward to working with the Gowanus and Carroll Gardens communities to realize a shared vision for affordable housing, open space, community facilities, and retail on this site. We believe Gowanus Green will be a transformative development—helping to heal the Gowanus Canal through environmental remediation while providing outstanding design and an array of public amenities to its residents and the neighborhood.”


September 3rd, 2008, 05:52 AM
September 2, 2008

Exclusive New Venue Alert: Littlefield



This fall Gowanus gets another (http://gothamist.com/2008/06/26/new_venue_alert_the_bell_house.php) venue! Located at 622 Degraw Street (http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=104372634431222606322.00045216a6e9d7c6e2df3&ll=40.680963,-73.987062&spn=0.00851,0.016801&z=16), this one is called Littlefield (http://littlefieldnyc.com/) and will be housed in an old, 6200-square-foot warehouse renovated with an eco-friendly touch. They tell us "Green elements include a landscaped interior courtyard, sound walls formed from recycled rubber tires, and a bar constructed of salvaged bowling alley lanes."

Expect live music, film screenings, and art installations from the owners, Julie Kim and Scott Koshnoodi, as well as talent buyers (who include FrictionNYC (http://www.frictionnyc.com/)'s Justin Carl and Nghia Nguyen). A moveable partition is designed to separate the main performance space from the bar/courtyard, to give each area an intimate feel. "When the partition is fully closed, the performance space can accommodate up to 200 people while the bar/courtyard can hold up to 100. For larger performances, the partition can be moved to one side and the warehouse can accommodate up to 300 people."

These are the first images to come out (enlarged floor plan here (http://gothamist.com/attachments/arts_jen/biglittlefield.jpg)), and the group has also made some cryptic Blair Witch/Cloverfield-esque videos (watch one here (http://www.vimeo.com/1580256)).


2003-2008 Gothamist LLC (http://www.gothamistllc.com/).

September 3rd, 2008, 03:03 PM
Gowanus Lounge

Gowanus Hotel Row is Growing: New Project Underway

September 3rd, 2008


Workers have started reducing a President Street warehouse to rubble, clearing the way for another entry in Gowanus’ burgeoning hot-sheet scene hotel boom. A developer named SAI Hospitality plans to build a 100-plus-room hotel in place of the warehouse ; SAI also has designs on another (http://www.brownstoner.com/brownstoner/archives/2007/12/developer_plans.php) vacant warehouse on the street, between 3rd and 4th avenues, where it says it’s going to put up a second hotel. A few weeks ago, the DOB rejected (http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/JobsQueryByNumberServlet?requestid=2&passjobnumber=310188169&passdocnumber=01) SAI’s initial application for a new building permit in the spot where demo’s under way, but the application shows a five-story, 117-room property is on the drawing board. We call this stretch of President the Gowanus Hotel Row –not to be confused with the larger Gowanus Hotel District (http://www.gowanuslounge.com/2008/08/01/will-gowanus-hotels-scare-the-crap-out-of-tourists/)–because, all told, there are three hotels planned for it. In the background is the third hotel on the street, which is now almost complete. We can almost envision a time when tourists unfamiliar with Gowanus will not burst into tears upon alighting from a cab and taking in their surroundings.

September 30th, 2008, 06:19 AM
Gowanus Whole Foods Toast?

by Tom Acitelli (http://www.observer.com/node/36094)
September 29, 2008

http://www.observer.com/files/imagecache/article/files/gowanuswholefoodssite.jpg Brownstoner.com.
The proposed Gowanus Whole Foods site.

That's what Brownstoner's reporting (http://www.brownstoner.com/brownstoner/archives/2008/09/curtains_for_wh.php). Evidently, according to a source within the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which must sign off on development on the Gowanus site at Third Street and Third Avenue, the store's a no-go. Besides:

[E]vidently the trend in the supermarket biz has swung away from superstores, our source notes; in addition, in the wake of poor earnings (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121796778333514415.html?mod=googlenews_wsj) this summer, Whole Foods announced (http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/373680_wholefoodsearns06.html) that it would be cutting back on the number of new stores next year. The likely upshot? Even if Whole Foods decided to open a smaller store in Brooklyn, says our source, it's unlikely it would want to use this site.


© 2008 Observer Media Group,

October 24th, 2008, 12:09 PM
October 24, 2008

CB6 Okays Toll Brothers' Spot Rezoning (http://www.brownstoner.com/brownstoner/archives/2008/10/cb6_okays_toll.php)


At last night's CB6 Landmark/Land Use committee meeting, members gave the thumbs up to Toll Brothers' request for a spot rezoning of the site along the Gowanus Canal, between Carroll and 2nd Streets. The change would happen in advance of the neighborhood-wide rezoning being undertaken by City Planning, allowing Toll Brothers to erect a mixed-use development with housing between four and 12 stories, a couple of hundred parking spaces and a public park along the canal. According to Pardon Me For Asking (http://pardonmeforasking.blogspot.com/2008/10/cb6-land-use-votes-yes-to-toll-brothers.html), even some members who voted yes did so reluctantly; they want the canal cleaned and feel the best way to make that happen is to have constituents living near it. PFMA points out the Councilman Bill de Blasio lobbied the committee to say yes, and Toll Bros. spent $365,000 on lobbying efforts. Far as we know they don't have to pay for cleaning up the canal.



December 8th, 2008, 01:09 PM
E]vidently the trend in the supermarket biz has swung away from superstores,.
Gosh did that trend ever even get off the ground in NYC? About the only thing I actually miss about the midwest is how far, far superior their grocery stores are. You can get ANYTHING at them and in all sorts of varieties. There isn't enough space in NYC to accommodate such selection. Understandable, but lamentable when you're used to having more, more, more.

December 8th, 2008, 02:34 PM
Seriously. That's a plus (the only one?) about suburbs all over. Much better groceries than in the city.

A bit unfair to us that we have to put up with the crappy Targets of the suburbs but, other than WholeFoods or Fairway (neither of which can hold a candle to the "normal" grocery stores you get in the burbs) we don't get any of the suburban food lovin'... :(

December 8th, 2008, 02:37 PM
At we get the most awesome restaurants in the world as a trade-off.

February 15th, 2011, 04:54 AM
The Coignet Stone Company Building On Whole Foods Site Finally Getting Some Love

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5163/5229194205_1147989d9c_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/13550550@N08/5229194205/)

It would appear that the small land-marked building on the Whole Foods (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/) site at 360 Third Avenue at the corner of Third Street is finally getting some much needed love. A permit (http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/JobsQueryByNumberServlet?requestid=2&passjobnumber=320217573&passdocnumber=01) for roof repair has been issued by the NYC Buildings Department (http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/JobsQueryByNumberServlet?requestid=2&passjobnumber=320217573&passdocnumber=01)and late last week, workers were observed at the site. That is encouraging news. Lets hope that it is just the beginning towards restoring and saving this neighborhood gem.

For quite a few years now, the historic structure has been deteriorating, its beautiful ornate façade slowly crumbling away. Its owner, Richard Kowalski, of Beach Haven, N.J, had signed a Memorandum of Lease with Whole Foods back in 2005, when the company purchased the land surrounding the building in order to construct one of their food markets. Under the lease agreement, Whole Foods was to restore and repair the old house. The work, however, has been postponed till now.

The 1873 building was designed by William Fields & Son and housed the New York and Long Island Coignet Stone Company, which occupied five acres along the Gowanus Canal. In more recent history, it was home to the Pippin Radiator Company.

The Coignet Stone Company building was landmarked in 2006 by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. You can read more about its history here (http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/reports/ny_li_coignet_stone_co.pdf).

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5132/5441834104_e0dae5abb2.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/13550550@N08/5441834104/)


February 15th, 2011, 10:30 PM
^glad it's saved and headed for better times.

The Gowanus should be developed in an urban way. What's with all the sloping lawns and imitation suburbia in the renderings? Don't we have enough of that in New York now? and not enough waterfronts where you can do something like eat and drink and shop instead of just watching supermoms circle their prams on endless manicured lawns...or pale desperados engaging in sweaty no-swim sunbathing? How about some waterfront promenades with something going on. More like River Walk and less like an upstate SUNY college quad.:mad:

February 21st, 2011, 07:30 PM
Seriously. That's a plus (the only one?) about suburbs all over. Much better groceries than in the city.

A bit unfair to us that we have to put up with the crappy Targets of the suburbs but, other than WholeFoods or Fairway (neither of which can hold a candle to the "normal" grocery stores you get in the burbs) we don't get any of the suburban food lovin'... :(

At least whole foods put attention towards healthier eating rather than the junk you get in conventional stores. I live in suburbs and use Whole Foods.