Big tussle for Toll Bros. plan

The Brooklyn Paper
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Home builder Toll Brothers’ massive Gowanus project continues to wend its way through a lengthy public review, this week getting an airing before the City Planning Commission.

The commission has until Feb. 17 to hand down an opinion on the project, a sprawling 605,380-square-foot development on two blocks bounded by Bond Street, Second Street, Carroll Street, and the canal. The plan calls for the construction of a mixture of townhouses and apartment buildings, two of which would rise as tall as 12 stories. A total of 477 residential units are being proposed, with approximately 140 of those being rentals made affordable to a range of incomes.

Along with the residential component, the project calls for 1,500 square feet of commercial space, 1,500 square feet of community facility space and 268 parking spaces, all above ground.

“I think it went very well,” said Toll executive David Von Spreckelsen said of the Jan. 7 hearing at the Commission’s Lower Manhattan headquarters. “There were as many for as there were against – which is usually atypical. “Those against usually come out en masse.”

“What we are proposing is very consistent with the framework that the Department of City Planning put together,” he added.

City Planning’s framework, crafted last summer, identifies areas in the Gowanus corridor where residential or mixed-use development might be appropriate, and permits building heights of up to 12 stories, with an 80-foot setback in select portions of the area. An anticipated rezoning of the area, also led by City Planning, has yet to be enacted.

Carroll Gardens resident Katia Kelly saw the hearing cast in a different light than Von Spreckelsen.

“I think there is something seriously wrong with the process,” she said, referring to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, a several-months-long public review the project is undergoing.

“People have been taking hours of their lives to defend their neighborhood, and here you have these developers and their crew – who are paid to be there, showing up.”

Kelly, who lives about two blocks from the proposed site, called the project’s height and density “ludicrous.”

“I think the process is designed to wear ordinary citizens down,” she said.

Toll is seeking a zoning change, as the land sits in an area zoned for manufacturing use. It will also need the city to consent to the creation of a special mixed-use district, and will require a special permit for a general large-scale development.

If the plan gets the necessary approvals, Toll would finalize the purchase of the land at the this spring or summer, Von Spreckelsen said.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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