New "Movement" Developing in Gowanus & Carroll Gardens?
Will Gowanus and Carroll Gardens community activists find new common ground? Last week, we broke the news about the major Toll Brothers development in Gowanus here and on Curbed as part of documents filed as part of the process of seeking a rezoning for the project. The scale of the development and the fact that the Toll firm is looking for the go-ahead before the overall neighborhood rezoning is completed is not sitting well with many residents. Some tell us that "a movement" may be developing to try to block the Toll project. Over the last few days, we have heard it called "an utter insult" in terms of the advance upzoning the developers are seeking and "a horror dropped into an open sewer" in terms of it placement in the Gowanus Canal's flood plain and of "anger, outrage and betrayal." One resident said, "The 'open sewer' has been calling out to some CG activists lately. People are mighty pissed off. There is a movement afloat."
If the two major developments that have been announced for Gowanus and Carroll Gardens--Public Place and the Toll Brothers canal-side project--are built, they would add about 1,600 units of housing to the neighborhood. (The total, of course, does not include other contemplated projects that would add at least another 1,000 units or projects that would be announced after the rezoning that is working its way through the process. The rezoning is expected to allow buildings up to 12 stories tall in places.)
An email we received said:
"Is anyone planning for where these people going to shop/eat/go to school/ride the train/park their cars/or even walk? Wake me from this nightmare! How can our tiny neighborhood sustain this kind of insane development?In addition to the projects near the Gowanus other major developments are possible along the Third Street corridor where several major parcels are on the market, in addition to the Whole Foods project.
Has any neighborhood worked this hard to preserve itself and been this betrayed in the process? Has any neighborhood tried so patiently to explain itself, and to make its arguments clearly and responsibly heard, expecting at least some of the same consideration from the "authorities" in return?
...It is now becoming crystal clear to CG residents clear that any "real plan" for Carroll Gardens development lies far, far away from their reach and far from anything resembling sane or responsible development for the public good. It is also crystal clear that the all mighty dollar will come to rule this neighborhood, as every last square inch goes up for sale and development, encouraged by the all too convenient: arcane, out of context, and ill conceived zoning regulations that encourage greedy developers to pillage our community?
Whether any development will happen any time soon is another matter. The environmental challenges are severe (the Public Place site harbors toxins left over from a Manufactured Gas Plant that are almost impossible to completely remove and environmental testing hasn't even been done on the Toll site) and the flooding problems at the Toll Brothers site are so severe that the developers want to build the housing on a twelve-foot high man made hill. (The photo below is the foot of Second Street during a Nor'easter last year. Part of the Toll property is on the left. The water is contaminated with raw sewage.) The Gowanus, of course, is regularly flooded with raw sewage when it rains thanks to "Combined Sewer Overflows" that dump the contents of toilets right into the canal, with one of the biggest gushers of, uh, crap being approximately across the water from the proposed new Toll Brothers condos.