Housing is a go for Gowanus

The Brooklyn Paper
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A 700-unit housing complex got the go-ahead to rise along the banks of the Gowanus Canal after developers scrapped their request to alter a previously approved plan for the site and promised to stick to the size and height guidelines granted to the prior builder.

The real estate firm Lightstone Group received a Planning Commission rubber-stamp on Monday when it abandoned its quest to make a “minor modification” extending the backyard of the project, and instead advanced a proposal that closely mirrors a bid by the development company Toll Brothers, which bailed on the project three years ago due to the stigma of building beside one of the nation’s dirtiest waterways.

Dropping the request for rear yard changes on the canal-side stretch bounded by Bond, Carroll, and Second streets means the Lightstone Group proposal can advance under the same zoning hammered out for the Toll Brothers plan, said company spokesman Ethan Geto.

“We decided to give that up and we became as-of-right automatica­lly,” said Geto.

But that doesn’t mean the proposal is identical to the old Toll Brothers blueprints.

Lightstone Group is sticking to its plan to build 700 units instead of the 500 pitched by Toll Brothers, shrinking the sizes of the apartments and putting them on the market as rentals rather than condos.

The developer plans to rent 140 of those apartments at prices below market rates.

The redesigned project must also abide by strict waterfront regulations that weren’t on the books during the hard-fought 2009 rezoning — pushing sections of the development further away from the canal, and, by extension, slightly increasing the amount of open space.

Under the redesigned blueprint, the tallest section of the building, which tops out at 12 stories, will be pulled back 70 and 75 feet from the canal, and a part of the structure on the southern end of the site will be set back 66.5 feet from the water’s edge.

Developers also plan to raise the lowest occupied floors of the buildings by two feet to comply with a new 100-year floodplain map released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

But project opponents who have long blasted the development for its scale and potential impact on sewers, schools, and subways fear the changes won’t be enough to protect residents if another storm like Hurricane Sandy hits the borough and the canal once again overruns its banks.

“In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, I continue to believe it is a mistake to move forward with dense, high-rise, residential development without a comprehensive plan for infrastructure and land-use regulations that Gowanus needs,” said Councilman Brad Lander (D–Gowanus).

Before Lightstone Group is permitted to start construction, it must get a waterfront certification from the Planning Commission chair, according to Michael Shilstone, a spokesman for the agency.

Geto said that this would likely be done within the next few weeks.

“We are proud to be in a position to jumpstart the transformation of the largely abandoned or under-utilized borders of the canal to productive use,” said Lightstone Group president Mitchell Hochberg.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at
Updated 10:09 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Moses kestenbaum ODA from Williamsburg says:
Like we need more congestion, more traffic, more polution, more crime, it's greedy developers screwing up nice neighborhoods, it's time to get the hell out and move to Vermont
March 20, 2013, 6:22 pm
jjm from ch says:
Being that this is gonna be built by the filthiest flow of water in ny, its eventually gonna turn into entirely low-income housing because i dont think any uppity folks are gonna want to see the sludge of the gowanus when they look out of their window.
March 20, 2013, 9:08 pm
Barry from Flatbush says:
What part of FLOOD ZONE A don't they understand?
March 20, 2013, 9:53 pm
scott from park slope says:
Gowanus has a bad reputation but it was a fresh water creek that hosted oysters so large they were exported to Europe. Obviously that's not in the stars any more but if people start occupying upscale apartments and condos next to it you better believe the political pressure to clean it up in a hurry will skyrocket. Gowanus could be the Venice of Brooklyn. Mark my words in 20 years it will be the hottest place to live in this part of the borough, with galleries, restaurants, performance spaces, design studios, and brilliant startups.
March 21, 2013, 4:29 am
Matt from Brooklyn says:
I agree with Scott, everyone is being shortsighted the area will improve gradually over time. Just look at other parts of Brooklyn that have gentrified over the past 20-30 years, some of the hottest 'hoods today were crime ridden and/or industrial areas. Times changes and so does the city, if you don't like the idea don't move there!
March 21, 2013, 8:52 am
jjmc from ch says:
Look at ft greene, it so called "changed" & now people are getting robbed left & right over there.
March 21, 2013, 10:04 am
jjm from ch says:
To add to my previous comments, u gotta love gentrfication lol...Seriously u ever wonder y everytime u read the police blotter, ft greene usually leads the pack? GENTRIFICATION. they are taking advantage of all of the uppities moving in by doing break-ins & muggings so who's to say it wont happen when they this brand new housing gets built?
March 21, 2013, 10:13 am
K. from ArKady says:
Effluent for the affluent. Something I think we can all get behind.
March 21, 2013, 11:09 am
jjm from ch says:
@K. i second that motion lol
March 21, 2013, 11:45 am
jjm from ch says:
Give this about a yr or 2, it'll turn into another housing projects
March 21, 2013, 11:47 am
JAY from NYC says:
Scott, don't agree with you because even AFTER the Superfund effort is done the area will STILL be really contaminated and the water will still be too polluted to swim in.
Basically cleaning it up, is really not possible. Its ruined, it can't be cleaned up, and its going to be ruined until maybe someday far in the future we develop some sort of entirely new technology.
March 21, 2013, 5:13 pm
Jim from Park Slope says:
With gentrification comes better schools, lower crime and better services. We should all look forward to gentrification.
March 22, 2013, 10:40 am
jjm from ch says:
@Jim...lower crime? U did read my comments on ft greene gentrification didnt u? The thieves over there are having a ball.
March 22, 2013, Noon
ppw from xyz says:
Hey, jjm, yeah, look at the crime rates in East New York and Brownsville...totally ungentrified and sooooo amazingly low, right? Uh-huh, totally crime free there, absolutely!

Crime in Ft Greene is nowhere near as high now as before gentrification. It's just getting reported by the gentry and the newspapers.
March 23, 2013, 10:22 am
mary williams from east new york says:
the down town brooklyn projects i think it's the gawonus they are the worst they have some gang down there killing people left and right and they police won't do any thing to stop the crime there what a shame for the brown stone houses that circles that project have to live by such gang members and the people who live there are to afraid to stomp out a few bloods
Feb. 21, 2014, 2:32 am
mary williams from east new york says:
they are going to find bodies in that canal
Feb. 21, 2014, 2:35 am

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