Saturday, July 22, 2006

Idea Floated for Redevelopment of Key Gowanus Property

Gowanus, Sunday Morning
Hats off to the always intelligent, thoughtful and in-depth Brooklyn Ramblings for finally posting the redevelopment plan that NYU Wagner School students recently offered for a key parcel of land along the Gowanus Canal between Smith and Hoyt Streets and Fifth and Ninth streets. (You can see all the details at the Public Place website the students created, which is loaded with photos and maps and details of the thoughtful proposal.) Part of the deeply polluted site with which the proposal deals was once used by Brooklyn Union Gas (Keyspan's corporate predecessor) and is now vacant and awaiting cleanup and reuse. (The entire site is 6.5 acres.)

The Wagner School grad students--like the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corp.'s comprehensive plan--envision recreational use for part of the parcel. (And would also have the huge cement business on part of the parcel relocating to another site on the canal or elsewhere in order to open public waterfront access on the Big G. It is one of the many use conflicts that will have to be resolved before any Gowanus redevelopment happens.)

We'll quote Brooklyn Ramblings for a bit:
The site, known as Public Place, was the site of a manufactured gas plant operated by Brooklyn Union Gas, the predecessor to KeySpan. Today, the site is highly contaminated, mostly vacant and underutilized. It is, however, in a central location between residential uses to the north and west, and industrial uses to the south and east, and is close to mass transit. It is one of the larger, mostly vacant, city-owned sites remaining in New York City.
Any plan for Gowanus redevelopment faces multiple hurdles, including the fact that city planners in the Bloomberg Administration will draw up the plan that carries the most weight. City Council Members and the Mayor will make any final decisions on zoning and project funding. The students quote an unnamed local official saying, "Gowanus is like the Balkans."

Notably, the NYU planners identified a community preference for open space and recreational use on the parcel as well as community facilities and work space for artists. The scenarios for the space, Brooklyn Ramblings reports, include a 128,100 square feet, a 3-acre park with a waterfront esplanade, and a 23,100-square-foot community facility.

The Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation's plan for the parcel envisions a similar future, once it's cleaned up, a process that could take years.

The image below is from the new proposal, on the Public Place website, as is the aerial photo beneath it. If you're interested, you can download the entire Wagner School report here.


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