Councilors Brad Lander and Stephen Levin will discuss the Gowanus reshuffle at a June meeting. Photo by Kevin Duggan
New York City City Council on Tuesday voted almost unanimously to approve the Gowanus reshuffle, which officially kicked off the project after years of planning and debate. “It shows that many people will accept growth in their neighborhood if they are a real part of the planning process and see it as a way to achieve common values,” said Councilman Brad Lander, who represents the majority of the district to opgones. . “This redevelopment of the zone began nearly a decade ago in grassroots community talks. It was strengthened through robust conversation in literally dozens of meetings. It was strengthened through the advocate of the remarkable Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition for Justice, a diverse coalition of residents in public housing, environmentalists, artists, small businesses and community leaders. ” Lander highlighted the precedence of the conversion – this is the first conversion that has undergone a racial impact study  and the first redevelopment of a “whiter, richer neighborhood” after the implementation of mandatory inclusive housing , which must ensure that all new construction has a number of cheap apartments. Earlier this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio reached an agreement t about the reorganization with Lander and Councilor Stephen Levin, who represents part of Gowanus, and community groups, including the Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition for Justice, just before the vote in the Council’s Agriculture Committee. The agreement contained parts of the three core requirements set by GNCJ, which Lander and Levin both said should be included in order for the project to gain their approval. These agreements included $ 200 million to fund improvements and repairs to Gowanus Houses and Wyckoff Gardens, two New York City Housing Authority complexes within the boundaries of the 82-block redevelopment, and $ 174 million to improve sewers along the flood-threatened Fourth Avenue. as a vote of confidence that the United Stormwater Rule will ensure that Combined Sewer Overflow levels do not rise as tens of thousands of new residents move into the neighborhood in the coming years. The city will also work with a third party to develop and operate a “Task Force”, which will keep an eye on the city and private developers during the redevelopment to ensure that promises made during the negotiations are met. Levin noted the “unprecedented” conditions for the NYCHA improvements during Tuesday’s meeting. “Every single apartment in Gowanus and Wyckoff Gardens will be renovated by NYCHA, not through [the Rental Assistance Demonstration program], and not through the privatization of any kind of any private development or infill, “he said.” But just as an investment from NYCHA, which is extraordinary and unprecedented. ”
Although the $ 200 million is less than the $ 274 million NYCHA estimates are needed to repair the buildings, the agreement includes funding to reopen the long-closed community centers on the NYCHA complexes, including Gowanus and Red Hook in “cloudburst” investigations that will analyze floods and storm events in the neighborhoods and begin implementing flood mitigation measures and monitoring water quality and compliance with the United Rainwater Rule. These commitments include new city-owned parks and open spaces, strong policies to impose better waterfront design and rainwater management, support for sustainable public space maintenance, critical investment in sewerage infrastructure and long-term flood planning that the neighborhood looks forward to. in change, “said Andrea Parker, CEO of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, in a statement. The redevelopment is expected to bring more than 3,000 affordable housing units to Gowanus, including the 950 affordable apartments intended for Gowanus Green, a city-owned plot currently known as Public Place, after the redevelopment of the plot is completed and 43 units on Mercy Home, which is scheduled for Fourth Avenue. Just ahead of the agricultural referendum, Lander and local art collective Arts Gowanus reached an agreement with a number of developers to reach an agreement on community benefits, which will see more than 150 new, affordable artist studies in new developments. Another art group in Gowanus – Gowanus Artists In Alliance – sounded the alarm about a 30-story tower to be built next to the Old American Can Factory, which was a landmark.  in 2019 to ensure that it is not torn down in the subdivision. The tower had previously been cut down from talks about the conversion, they said, and the tower’s inclusion came as a “shock.” “The can factory has 80 organizations and studios with 300 workers, and construction on this scale will mean a shift, for some while construction is underway, but permanently for others like the music studio BC Studio,” GAIA said in a release.Linda Mariano, a local conservation activist, celebrated the city’s decision to designate five buildings, including the Old American Can Factory, prior to the redevelopment. Photo by Kevin Duggan
BC Studio owner Martin Bisi told the Brooklyn Paper that long-term construction would displace him from his studio for years, as he can not record with the sound of construction going on right next door. “If I get displaced, I get displaced to a much less affordable neighborhood, especially for commercial area,” he said. “So the chances of my recording studio staying in Gowanus, or even Brooklyn, or even New York City, will be less.” Councilman Carlos Menchaca, who represents the adjacent District 39, including Red Hook and Sunset Park, was the only “no.” While he was the only member to vote against the restructuring, Menchaca was not the only member to oppose the project. Councilman Kalman Yeger, who represents parts of southern Brooklyn, said he voted with Lander and Levin to honor the informal council tradition with “member reverence,” or that he agreed with the wishes of the councilor representing the district a project is planned for – a sentiment he expressed while explaining that he would vote “no” to the controversial reorganization of the Blood Center in Manhattan along with Councilman Ben Kallos, despite the fact that the majority of the council chose to approve it. “For the same reason that I want to vote with Councilor Lander on Gowanus, which I actually do not think is a particularly good project,” he said during the meeting. “But I respect his work, and I respect Councilor Levin’s work, even when I disagree with both of you, which is as frequent as you can imagine.” The reorganization has been met with opposition from both local elected representatives and community groups – in September, the rep called. Nydia Velázquez and Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon  de Blasio to halt the restructuring after the Federal Environmental Protection Agency raised concerns about the project’s draft environmental impact statement. DEIS used outdated data and inconsistent modeling to predict the impact the reorganization would have on floods and combined sewer overflows, the EPA said in a letter , and the two lawmakers said a new statement should be issued before the reorganization went ahead.Assemblyman Jo Anne Simon joined the rep. Nydia Velázquez at a press conference in September, where he called on the city to issue a new environmental impact statement for the Gowanus redevelopment. Photo by Kirstyn Brendlen
That did not happen, and the final statement  did not use updated modeling. Last month, the advocacy group announced the Voice of Gowanus  that they had hired attorney Richard Lippes as legal counsel as they prepared to oppose the reorganization. After the vote, the group said they plan to follow up on their legal plans. “As Brad Lander celebrates a massive violation of state and federal law today – one that jeopardizes the safety of our society and the environment and bows to major real estate interests, we note that one particular lady has not yet sung, when it comes to the Gowanus reshuffle, “they said in a statement. “See you in court.” The council’s vote is the last formal step in the city’s uniform land use assessment process – Mayor de Blasio can step in, but only if he wants to veto the council’s decision within five days of the vote. “Reorganizing Gowanus – and unlocking a transitory neighborhood with high potential in the heart of Brooklyn for new generations of New Yorkers – is a transformative step toward building a recovery for all of us,” he said in a statement after the vote. “Thanks to many years of hard work from city agencies, elected officials, lawyers and Gowanus residents, we are finally bringing this neighborhood the jobs, housing and open spaces it deserves.” “That’s exactly the kind of thing we came here to do. And it’s such a pleasure to do this right, as we’re finishing these eight years together.”
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