Gowanus rezoning deal reached just before board committee vote to approve • Brooklyn Paper

The hotly contested Gowanus rezoning took another milestone on Wednesday, as a city council subcommittee voted to approve neighborhood-wide land use changes.

The vote brings the plan closer to reality and comes after planners reach a long-awaited deal with local stakeholders on the conditions of overzoning, which would radically change the makeup of the area with thousands of new apartments.

Board members Brad Lander and Stephen Levin, who represent the 82-block block of Gowanus to be upgraded, announced on Wednesday that they, along with Community Board 6 and other community groups, had reached an agreement on the rezoning conditions with Mayor Bill. by Blasio.

“Development debates are not easy, but I’m really proud of the way we’ve engaged them here,” Lander said in a statement. “Together, we are laying the groundwork for a more diverse, more sustainable, prosperous and creative neighborhood that will welcome new residents while enhancing and preserving the ability of social housing residents, artists, small businesses and neighbors to continue to live. thrive here for generations. to come.”

Last-minute negotiations delayed the council’s sub-committee vote on zoning and franchises for a day, but they ultimately agreed to give the go-ahead after the deal on the so-called “Points of Agreement” plan. “.

The proposals, critically, include parts of the three requests of the GNCJ, including full seed funding capital for repairs to two local NYCHA complexes, a net zero increase in combined sewer overflows, and the creation of an independent oversight committee to oversee the zoning change.

Levin and Lander both said those conditions needed to be included in the draft before voting to approve it.

Board members Brad Lander and Stephen Levin discuss the rezoning of Gowanus at a rally in June.Photo by Kevin Duggan

The city has agreed to fully fund renovations to all social housing in Gowanus Houses and Wyckoff Gardens, totaling over 1,600 apartments, at an estimated cost of around $ 200 million. This is more than the city was last willing to offer summer, but falls short of the NYCHA estimated $ 274 million for long-neglected repairs.

City officials will meet with tenants regularly throughout construction and have formally committed to reopening community centers at both complexes.

“We are grateful today to everyone who contributed to this, helping us get here,” said Theresa Davis, vice president of the Gowanus Houses Tenants Association. “That’s not all we wanted, but it was for them to come forward, to stand out and to help us.”

In addition to the apartment renovations, which will include the replacement of kitchens, bathrooms, plumbing and electrical components, the agreement says the city will expand the “Neighborhood safety action planAt Gowanus and Wyckoff Gardens, providing an annual $ 2 million program to reduce crime through social services and youth.

gowanus houses
Gowanus Houses is one of two NYCHA complexes within the boundaries of the Gowanus rezoning in need of major repairs.Google

Approximately $ 1 million per year will be spent on workforce development and skills training for the neighborhood, especially for NYCHA tenants.

The zero net impact on CSOs has been a sticking point as the Federal Environmental Protection Agency continues its Superfund clean-up of the Gowanus Canal. Most of the city’s sewers are combined and treat both wastewater and stormwater in the same system. During heavy rains, the storm sewers overflow and send stormwater and untreated sewage through the streets and, in Gowanus, into the heavily polluted canal.

In the POA, the city says the unified stormwater rule, which will come into effect before construction begins and requires all new construction to include stormwater management measures, will reduce OSC releases and manage flooding. In addition, the city has pledged to upgrade the flood-prone Fourth Avenue sewers for $ 174 million, Following $ 53 million spent on elevated storm sewers on adjacent streets.

Campaigners and elected officials have expressed concerns about the impact of rezoning on flooding in Gowanus. While the draft environmental impact statement indicated that the incorporation of water retention and storage would eliminate the presence of 8,000 new apartments, the EPA raised concerns on outdated information and inconsistent mathematics used by the city.

Owl’s Head’s separate but necessary OSC was approved alongside the zoning change. Tank, the second of two large holding tanks that the city must build to accompany the federal cleanup. The reservoirs will store a total of 12 million gallons of stormwater when completed, reducing the amount of CSO overflow that will flow into the channel during heavy rains and hopefully keeping the newly cleaned channel without more water. sludge.

But the city was strongly critical for delays on the reservoirs, which should not be completed until the EPA has finished dredging the canal and covering it with clean backfill.

a lot of salt in gowanus
The Salt Lot, which currently houses the DSNY facilities and the Gowanus Canal Conservancy programs, is the future home of the Owl’s Head CSO Reservoir. The future all-affordable Gowanus Green site is located directly across the canal.Photo by Kirstyn Brendlen

“We are truly celebrating some hard-fought wins here today,” said Diana Gruberg, landscape director at the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, including a full review of the flood conditions at Gowanus and Red Hook.

“This is the hydrological study that the community has been asking for for years,” she said. “And then a commitment to improve infrastructure on Fourth Avenue and Carroll Street, where we have seen devastating flooding.”

Still a fairly industrial area, Gowanus has long been home to a thriving arts community, but rising rents are worrying some artists about their future in the region. Last month during the city council marathon audience on rezoning, Arts Gowanus announced that they had worked with Lander on a community benefits agreement that would allow certain developers to reserve space in their buildings for affordable studios.

The final CBA is an agreement with ten developers at more than a dozen sites to provide 150 subsidized studios, including a handful of more affordable spaces reserved for low-income artists, Arts Gowanus said in a statement, and a community 2000 feet. arts center which will serve as an exhibition space and the new Gowanus Arts office. Even if the agreed properties or buildings are sold, the ABC, which went into effect on November 10, will ensure the affordable studios and art center remain in operation.

“We are delighted that this zoning change allows artists to continue to thrive in Gowanus,” said Johnny Thornton, General Manager of Arts Gowanus. “We have been actively addressing the displacement of artists in the community for years and there is a great need for affordable artist workspaces. “

GNCJ’s final request, which was echoed by CB6 and Adams in their approval, was the creation of an independent oversight working group to ensure that promises made by the city and the developers are honored during the long process. of rezoning once it has started.

This task force will be supported by a third party and will be made up of elected officials, CB6 members, NYCHA residents and community organizations, and “all relevant municipal agencies,” have committed to regular checks with the government. working group within the framework of the POA.

Developers building along the canal will need to build and maintain a 40-foot flood-resistant public greenway, and the city has committed to building green spaces on the site of each of the two retention reservoirs and alongside streets. Smith and Ninth. subway station. In an effort to retain the existing character of Gowanus, the POA requires that the intermediate areas be set aside for commercial and industrial use – with additional “modest” development permitted, and a new use group, “Gowanus Mix”, will create 300,000 square feet of space for the arts, light industry and non-profit organizations.

In addition to the 950 affordable units, Gowanus Green, which are expected to be built in the public square once the site remediation is complete, the council approved a request to modify a previous urban development action zones project. , which will allow the construction of Mercy Home, an affordable housing development on 4th Avenue. The city expects an additional 2,000 affordable units to become available as the rezoning progresses in accordance with mandatory inclusive housing requirements.

“We are not backing down and look forward to working with the Adams administration and new board members to ensure all of these commitments are met,” said Michelle de la Uz, executive director of the Fifth Avenue committee.

Since the committee voted “approve with modifications” on several of the rezoning actions, the amended proposal will be returned to the Planning Commission for review and will return to council for a full vote on November 23.

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