Bridging Gowanus
Executive Summary

Background and Goals

For decades, cleaning up the Gowanus Canal has been a top priority for the Gowanus community and surrounding neighborhoods. With the EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) Superfund Record of Decision, that possibility is finally moving forward and becoming a reality. Many leaders in the community have worked tirelessly – along with elected and appointed officials and community groups – to get sufficient attention and resources to reverse decades of neglect and bring disparate stakeholders together.

This is an important moment for Gowanus — and one the community felt it was critical to build upon. The Superfund process is a major step to a cleaner community, but there is much more that needs to be done to heal decades of environmental degradation. As Superstrom Sandy made clear, there are hard decisions about public investment in sustainable infrastructure and flood mitigation measures to protect Gowanus and surrounding neighborhoods. Stakeholders want to support manufacturing uses that have historically anchored Gowanus, as well as newer arts-oriented businesses in the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, it is no secret that there is mounting development pressure – as demonstrated by the Lightstone Group’s new project on the Canal between Carroll and 2nd Street, a slew of new hotels, and many other new projects nearby. In the absence of a more unified community vision, the area could easily face a series of as-of-right developments, variances, or spot rezonings. This was made clear over the summer, when it was revealed that the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision is planning to put a large-scale parole facility (the only one serving all of Brooklyn) on the banks of the Canal at Second Avenue—a plan which is allowable under the existing zoning. Without a plan to preserve and strengthen what stakeholders value about the neighborhood, and include the infrastructure, planning, and amenities necessary for a sustainable future, scattershot development will continue and likely degrade the quality of life.

In the summer of 2013, a group of 45 stakeholders gathered in the gymnasium of Our Lady of Peace church (convened by neighborhood elected officials) to launch a community planning process to respond to the moment. They agreed that the pending transition at City Hall – with a new Mayor and City Planning Commission – would present an opportunity for a better outcome.

They decided to establish a community planning process, with everyone at the table, to develop a comprehensive plan for the infrastructure and land use regulations needed for a safe, vibrant, and sustainable Canal area. The mission was to take this opportunity to develop and put forth a united vision that could serve as an innovative model for inclusive, sustainable, low-lying, vibrant, mixed-use urban areas on a warming planet. Community stakeholders – with diverse views – would shape that vision together.

A group of local elected officials reached out to the Pratt Center for Community Development to serve as the community planning consultant, to design and implement the planning process.

Bridging Gowanus was established with the following goals:

+ Bring community stakeholders together to build as much consensus as possible around a long-term vision for the Gowanus Canal area.

+ Identify broadly-shared community goals.

+ Create a space for honest conversation about different viewpoints.

+ Develop the outlines of a comprehensive, community-based infrastructure and land use plan for a safe, vibrant, and sustainable Gowanus area

+ Shape the next NYC mayoral administration’s thinking about the Gowanus Canal.

Participants recognized that building consensus around a comprehensive plan that balances a range of environmental, economic, and community needs would not be easy. Stakeholders have many different ideas for what they want to see along and around the Canal. They agreed to work through many open questions, including but not limited to:

+ What infrastructure and amenities are necessary for the long-term vitality of the community?

+ What sort of flood protection investments and regulations are needed?

+ How can the Canal cleanup be built on the to make the Gowanus area a model of sustainability?

+ What mix of uses should be allowed? What mechanisms are needed to ensure a stable mix?

+ What infrastructure and regulation is needed to preserve and strengthen affordable housing, manufacturing, industrial, and artisan uses?

+ Are there areas where residential development should be allowed? If so, at what scale? With what provisions for design, sustainability, and open space? What level of affordability should be required?

Community Planning Process

The conveners of the planning effort strove to design and execute a process that would be robust, inclusive, and transparent. Over a period of more than a year, through small group interviews, large public meetings, working groups, and web-based resources, the process engaged more than three hundred interested stakeholders from the Gowanus area.

It was designed to build on the extensive body of existing planning work that has been done in the area and to tap the deep knowledge and expertise found within the community. The process began with the community identifying and refining a set of shared core values to guide the process and to serve as touchstones for the eventual development of recommendations. This was followed by participatory workshops where a suite of programmatic ideas was generated by the public, many of which enjoy broad support. The process culminated with public discussions about the difficult trade-offs needed to bring amenities to the community, specifically trade-offs surrounding the controversial questions of density and new development.

The planners, organizers, and stakeholders of Bridging Gowanus conducted extensive outreach to make the process inclusive. Meetings were advertised via local media, large-scale e-mail blasts, neighborhood listservs, and targeted (bilingual) flyering. Spanish-language translation was provided at the public meetings. Two of the large-scale community meetings were held at the NYCHA Wyckoff Gardens community center, and flyering was done in the public housing developments. Despite these concerted efforts, low-income stakeholders were under-represented throughout the process. The framework recommendations attempt to address clearly and affirmatively what was heard from low-income participants and those who work closely with them. It is critically important that continued, intensive efforts based on best practices are made to engage these stakeholders in future conversations around these topics.

The Bridging Gowanus process, findings, and recommendations are accessible on the web, including video from the public meetings with Spanish translation.

Community Planning Framework

1. Guaranteed investments in sustainable infrastructure upfront.

As part of any rezoning, the City must commit to an upfront infrastructure plan, coordinated with federal, state, and local actors, that commits to the projects needed for a sustainable future and identifies the financing to pay for them.

Key infrastructure projects:

+ A comprehensive Gowanus Canal cleanup begins with the Superfund-mandated dredging of the Canal bottom, but does not end there. Cleanup also requires significant water quality improvements (including two CSO retention tanks mandated by the EPA, at sites supported by science and engineering, and agreed to in dialogue with residents, that do not compromise public open space and recreation), upland green infrastructure, a plan for new bulkheads and “soft edges” along the canal post-dredging, and the remediation of brownfields along the Canal.

+ Minimize flooding, from rainstorms, future hurricanes, and climate change: Regular flooding of streets, business, and homes – including sewer back-ups at NYCHA properties – must be addressed with a combination of upland and canal-front interventions and infrastructure investments. The NYC Office of Recovery and Resiliency is currently conducting a study of coastal protection that includes an analysis of the area’s hydrology (thanks to feedback from Bridging Gowanus). That study must be completed and a course of action set – to address flooding and avoid adverse impacts – as part of the Gowanus plan.

+ Improvements to parks, open space, and Canal access: The existing public parks in Gowanus must be renovated and improved, green infrastructure projects expanded, and open spaces connected via a “Gowanus Greenscape” network. The Canal should be publicly accessible at public sites and access points (without placing an undue burden on existing manufacturing businesses) and where new development takes place.“Gowanus Greenscape” builds on ideas developed by the Gowanus Canal Conservancy and Susannah Drake of dlandstudios.

+ Public transportation investments are needed to accommodate growth of residents and workers, including restoration of the B71 bus, the expansion of NYC bike-share, expansion of ADA accessibility at nearby subway stations, and investment in biking, walking and boating infrastructure.

+ New school seats must be built to address existing overcrowding of schools, anticipated population growth from future development, and the additional classrooms required to provide universal pre-kindergarten for all four-year-olds. Wherever possible, these schools should serve as hubs for arts, cultural, and community activities.

A real plan for infrastructure financing

+ Superfund resources: it is anticipated that the parties responsible for the pollution of the Canal – most significantly National Grid and the City of New York – will fund the dredging of the Canal, as well as significant improvements to water quality through two storm-water retention tanks.

+ Other planned public investments, some of which are already committed to specific projects, such as sewer improvements,Through NYC DEP’s Gowanus High Level Storm Sewers project. green infrastructure,As part of NYC DEP’s Long Term Control Plan. and new school seats.Included in the NYC School Construction Authority’s Capital Plan for FY 2015- 2019. Flood protection, if warranted, should be provided through federal resiliency funding authorized after Superstorm Sandy. Additional resources necessary for the infrastructure plan must be committed in the City’s 10-Year Capital Plan where new development takes place.

+ A Gowanus “tax increment financing” (TIF) mechanism, through which increases in property values are captured through taxes that are committed to area-wide infrastructure, allowing infrastructure bonds to be issued to pay for upfront investments. Gowanus is a good place to pilot a TIF, given significant local infrastructure needs and the substantial increases in value that could be created by rezoning (as evidenced through an analysis prepared by the City Council’s Land Use Division, which identified significant increases in both land values and potential tax revenue if sites were rezoned).

An Environmental Quality Partnership

+ Because the resources and investments cut across city, state, and federal levels, and it will take many years to heal the water and land, this plan will need to be developed and implemented in a creative partnership (see Activating the Plan) that continues to include a strong role for community stakeholders.

+ Effective mechanisms and programs that connect local residents to jobs created by these projects are also of paramount importance (see below).

2. Making sure manufacturing can thrive (and residents benefit)

Gowanus remains a critical location for industrial businesses that provide job opportunities for a wide array of New Yorkers, help maintain the city’s economic diversity, and help meet core service needs. The area currently supports a mix of design and construction, creative, innovation/technology, environmental/re-use, and other businesses that should be preserved, supported, and strengthened. Unfortunately, they are rapidly being displaced as a result of skyrocketing real estate values and speculation – both by “as-of-right” uses like hotels and self-storage facilities and by speculative acquisitions by developers hoping to build housing.

Much of the Gowanus area, including at least the current Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) south of Third Street, on the east side of the Canal, must be preserved and strengthened for manufacturing.

This strengthened “Gowanus Manufacturing Zone” should feature:

+ a new zoning designation that strengthens industrial land use protections by placing restrictions on hotels, big-box retail, self-storage facilities, nightclubs, and large footprint offices to provide more room for manufacturing to thrive;

+ investments in critical business infrastructure, as detailed in the Gowanus Canal Brownfield Opportunity Area Nomination Study prepared the Friends of Community Board 6, including improved broadband and wireless access, in addition to resilient building and communications systems.

+ an increase in allowable density for manufacturing and industrial businesses, raising the allowable “Floor Air Ratio (FAR)” of the Gowanus Manufacturing Zone (above its current 1.0);

+ potential creation of an Industrial BID to provide shared business services and support, planning, marketing, building business networks, and infrastructure needed by industrial businesses.This idea has been developed by Friend of Brooklyn Community Board Six, as part of the Gowanus Brownfield Opportunity Areas (BOA) effort, funded by the NYS Department of State.

+ support for the “materials re-use” business cluster that is emerging to make Gowanus a leader in sustainable methods for reuse, recycling, and more environmentally friendly methods of waste and materials disposal.This materials re-use cluster already includes Build It Green! NYC, Film Biz Recycling, the Gowanus Canal Conservancy’s community compost facility, and the Lower East Side Ecology Center’s Gowanus eWaste Warehouse.

+ a workforce partnership that makes sure neighborhood residents – especially those who live in nearby public housing – benefit from good, safe, high-quality jobs in environmental cleanup, infrastructure and resiliency investments, new development, and new businesses. The “Stronger Together” collaboration of Fifth Avenue Committee, Brooklyn Workforce Innovations, Red Hook Initiative, and Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation is a strong starting-point for this effort.

3. A genuine Gowanus mix of uses

New York City’s existing model for “mixed-use” zoning (called “MX”) has allowed “as-of-right” residential development to fully displace businesses, an outcome no one wants to see in Gowanus. A new model to balance light industry, artist and cultural uses, retail, with housing in appropriate locations is needed.

Residential development in the Gowanus area should be allowed only in a new, “mandatory mixed-use” zoning district that will feature:

+ requirements to include “maker” uses. Residential developers would not be allowed to build housing/retail alone. They would be required to preserve or create compatible light manufacturing space, art/artisan work space, or nonprofit organization work space. This space could be built on-site in new buildings (e.g. on the ground or second floor) or by preserving existing buildings and commercial tenants nearby (within the Gowanus mixed-use zone).

+ a thoughtful approach to compatibility (using “performance standards” for emissions, noise, and smell), with real enforcement, so that residential and business uses can co-exist and even strengthen each other.

+ restrictions on uses that would undermine the mix of uses, such as nightclubs, hotels, self-storage facilities, and garbage/truck/bus depots.

+ incentives for developers to deed over the manufacturing/maker spaces to mission-driven nonprofit organizations that would focus on industrial tenants who create good jobs and hire locally, or that allow arts and nonprofit organizations to achieve stability (potentially including live/work space).Examples include the Greenpoint Manufacturing Design Center, SpaceWorks, the Powerhouse Arts Center, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.Additional organizations could be established.

+ “maker use” requirement would take the place of, and be configured as part of, much of the retail portion of new buildings. It would not take the place of affordable housing, which will still be required.

+ attention to preserving existing commercial tenants so that they are not displaced through lease cancellation or harassment in order to facilitate development or conversion.

Getting Gowanus right also requires a strategic preservation plan to preserve iconic buildingsMany historic buildings worthy of preservation were identified in the Historic Districts Council’s (2012) Gowanus publication (part of its “Six to Celebrate” series), that was developed in partnership with Friends and Residents of the Greater Gowanus (FROGG), to expand the neighboring Carroll Gardens Historic District (and protect its unique “courtyard” blocks), and to provide historic markers and installations that show and tell Gowanus history at public and private sites.

An arts and culture plan that builds on the vibrant arts, artisan, and nonprofit presence established in recent years – and on display each year through Gowanus Open Studiosorganized by Arts Gowanus.– is also needed. This includes preservation of community-based arts and nonprofit organizations through incentives for developers to deed over maker-spaces (as described above);Not-for-profit arts and cultural organizations in Gowanus include: Arts Gowanus, Film Biz Recycling, Gowanus Girls/Curious Jane, Gowanus Studio Space, Groundswell Community Mural Project, Interference Archive, the Morbid Anatomy Museum, Powerhouse Arts Center, Proteus Gowanus, ReelWorks, and many more incentives that enable artists, cooperatives, and nonprofit organizations to own their own space; establishment of the Powerhouse Workshop; a standing public art program as part of the Gowanus Greenscape; increasing accessibility of public spaces and facilities to community-based artists and organizations; and strengthening connections that promote not only a flourishing of the cultural community, but stronger and inclusive interactions with other stakeholders.

4. Preserve and create affordable housing.

Part of Gowanus’ character has been created by its role as a home for workers and residents striving to “make it” in New York. To remain a great neighborhood, it must stay true to this original role and be an inclusive one. Yet home prices and rents in the adjacent neighborhoods of Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, and Park Slope are some of the highest in Brooklyn, far beyond the reach of most New Yorkers.

Reflecting awareness of this dilemma, participants unequivocally expressed that where new residential development is allowed in Gowanus, a significant share must be affordable. Existing affordable housing in the neighborhood must be invested in and protected, especially the Gowanus and Warren Houses, and Wyckoff Gardens NYCHA developments, in addition to the remaining rent-stabilized units. To achieve affordable housing in Gowanus, “Bridging Gowanus” calls for:

+ Making overdue investments in NYCHA developments:The nearby NYCHA developments (Gowanus Houses, Wyckoff Gardens, and Warren Street) and their residents have suffered dire consequences from capital disinvestment. Any plan for Gowanus must include investments to address these needs, including preventing sewer back-ups, improving resiliency, and replacing elevators. Attention must also be paid to retaining neighborhood retail, like supermarkets and laundromats, that serves NYCHA residents.

+ Mandatory inclusionary zoning: Where new housing is allowed in areas currently zoned for manufacturing, or where increased density might be allowed, developers should be required to include affordable units. The de Blasio Administration is currently developing plans for “mandatory inclusionary zoning,” which should be applied to Gowanus. Moreover, where developers apply for 421-a tax breaks, they should not be allowed to “double dip” and use the same housing to satisfy their inclusionary requirements but should be required to increase the amount of affordable housing.

+ Gowanus Green development on the Public Place site: In 2008, the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) designated the “Gowanus Green” development team to create approximately 700 units of housing – 70% of it affordable to residents across a deep spread of incomes – and publicly accessible open space on the City-owned “Public Place” site. Plans for this site should move forward as part of a broader rezoning.The Gowanus Green team includes the Fifth Avenue Committee, the Bluestone Organization, Hudson Companies, Jonathan Rose Companies.

+ Protections for existing tenants, through stronger anti-harassment and anti-displacement measures: Too often, when new residential development is allowed, existing tenants suffer as owners in the larger area harass and seek to evict them in order to increase prices. Strong provisions to protect tenants must be included in any land use action for the area, in a form modeled on the Clinton Special District and lessons learned in more recent rezoningsMany of these ideas were first developed by the Fifth Avenue Committee in First Do No Harm.

A Pathway for Responsible Growth

The four core values outlined in the Community Planning Framework are shared by the overwhelming majority of Gowanus stakeholders.

The areas of disagreement in the Bridging Gowanus public process were around whether, where, and at what scale to allow new residential development. In general, Gowanus stakeholders do not see new, market-rate residential development – especially at heights taller than the surrounding brownstone neighborhoods – as a goal in and of itself.

However, most stakeholders recognize that the community will only realize these shared values with some growth and development. Allowing some residential development will create the real estate value that will make it economically viable to pay for upfront infrastructure investments, create and/or preserve production spaces, and insist upon affordability.

Realizing the reality of trade-offs, and given the participatory nature of Bridging Gowanus, local stakeholders were given an opportunity to weigh the difficult choices required for meeting the community’s goals at the third large-scale community planning session in June 2014.

Along with supporting plans that a significant portion of the neighborhood remain zoned for manufacturing, more than 60% of participants supported creating a balanced mixed-use zone that allows some increased residential density. Nearly three-quarters of the participants who chose this scenario expressed openness to buildings of more than 10 stories if and only if those buildings genuinely advance the community’s goals for infrastructure, sustainability, good jobs, a mix of uses, and affordability.

Not everyone agreed. Some participants argued that no new development should be allowed in areas that flooded during Superstorm Sandy. Others felt that new housing could be allowed but should be capped at four or five stories, essentially connecting the brownstone neighborhoods nearby. There was some dissent from the trade-off exercise – about a dozen people were angry about it and did not participate. And there is certainly broader skepticism that developers will get what they want, while the community will not get the protections, regulations, and investments that are needed to meet its goals.

However, most participants felt that change would be inevitable – and that it is therefore better to assert influence over that change than pursue “no action-no change” strategy. Without a plan for the neighborhood’s future, the status quo presents several risks: continued flooding and environmental degradation, spot rezonings and variances that will eventually result in major land use changes that would lack any sort of comprehensive planning, and the ongoing proliferation of hotels, big-box stores, self-storage facilities, and nightclubs that are allowed as-of-right under the existing zoning.

More than that: many stakeholders believe that the shared vision for a strong Gowanus future – one with infrastructure that can handle the challenges of our times, with a vibrant mix of uses, and reflective of Brooklyn’s diversity – can best be achieved through a responsible plan for some smart and balanced development. The Bridging Gowanus planning framework therefore strives to create a balanced, nuanced pathway for targeted and responsible growth, so that Gowanus can be a more sustainable, equitable, inclusive, and livable neighborhood.

This process did not endeavor to prepare a map, a specific urban design, or height and bulk rules for new buildings. Rather, what has been developed is a framework and the guidelines for more specific decision-making. Creative work on what the urban design for Gowanus should be has been undertaken by a range of designers and architects in recent yearsInnovative recent design efforts in Gowanus include dlandstudio, Eco-Gowanus, Gowanus By Design/Gowanus LowLine, the Gowanus Canal Conservancy’s Gowanus Design Summit, and TEDxGowanus. As part of Bridging Gowanus, the Center for Urban Pedagogy also conducted a neighborhood workshop on Gowanus urban design. Part of the challenge for the NYC Department of City Planning in getting Gowanus right will involve working with community stakeholders to build from this framework toward a full-fledged plan. To guide that effort, Bridging Gowanus stakeholders spoke to a series of principles:

+ The current Industrial Business Zone should be preserved for manufacturing, and strengthened, with no residential development allowed.

+ Any new zone allowing residential development should be both “mandatory mixed-use” and “mandatory inclusionary zoning.”

+ Thoughtful attention must be paid to building design to encourage integration with the existing neighborhood aesthetic.

+ A mix of heights (to avoid the Fourth Avenue canyon effect).

+ Active ground-floor uses (much of it maker-spaces) to animate the streetscape.

+ Canal-front properties must comply with waterfront open space requirements, active ground floor uses, and connections and enhancements to the Gowanus greenscape network.

+ High sustainability standards (e.g. onsite storm water retention, flood protection, low or no emissions, low or no waste).

+ Standards for good, safe, quality jobs, with an emphasis on hiring local residents.

Achieving these goals adds significant expense to development, and it will be necessary to develop clear, specific, feasible requirements that strike the right balance. Elaborating the specific standards was beyond the scope of Bridging Gowanus and will need to account for the de Blasio Administration’s current policy work on mandatory inclusionary zoning, 421-a tax exemption reform, industrial, and mixed-use zoning. However, an analysis by the New York City Council’s Land Use Division identifies highly significant increases in both land values and potential tax revenue if sites were rezoned (ranging from 4 to 24 times their current value, depending on assumptions about the changes) – sufficient to achieve significant public goals identified in this framework, and still meet return rates needed for private investment and development.

It is important to note that the timeline for new development will need to be synchronized with the Gowanus Canal Superfund cleanup, which will take place over the next decade. As the details of the cleanup emerge over the next year, they will need to inform plans for development.

The team behind this planning framework has sought to listen carefully. Many of the elements of this plan come from residents who likely will disagree with the provision for new residential development. Interested residents are invited to submit responses that will accompany this document, so others will be able to consider all points of view.

Activating the Plan

The four core values outlined in the Community Planning Framework are shared by the overwhelming majority of Gowanus stakeholders.

The areas of disagreement in the Bridging Gowanus public process were around whether, where, and at what scale to allow new residential development. In general, Gowanus stakeholders do not see new, market-rate residential development – especially at heights taller than the surrounding brownstone neighborhoods – as a goal in and of itself.

However, most stakeholders recognize that the community will only realize these shared values with some growth and development. Allowing some residential development will create the real estate value that will make it economically viable to pay for upfront infrastructure investments, create and/or preserve production spaces, and insist upon affordability.

Realizing the reality of trade-offs, and given the participatory nature of Bridging Gowanus, local stakeholders were given an opportunity to weigh the difficult choices required for meeting the community’s goals at the third large-scale community planning session in June 2014.

Along with supporting plans that a significant portion of the neighborhood remain zoned for manufacturing, more than 60% of participants supported creating a balanced mixed-use zone that allows some increased residential density. Nearly three-quarters of the participants who chose this scenario expressed openness to buildings of more than 10 stories (with a distribution of opinion spread about equally from 8 to 18 stories) – if and only if those buildings genuinely advance the community’s goals for infrastructure, sustainability, good jobs, a mix of uses, and affordability.

Not everyone agreed. Some participants argued that no new development should be allowed in areas that flooded during Superstorm Sandy. Others felt that new housing could be allowed but should be capped at four or five stories, essentially connecting the brownstone neighborhoods nearby. There was some dissent from the trade-off exercise – about a dozen people were angry about it and did not participate. And there is certainly broader skepticism that developers will get what they want, while the community will not get the protections, regulations, and investments that are needed to meet its goals.

However, most participants felt that change would be inevitable – and that it is therefore better to assert influence over that change than pursue “no action-no change” strategy. Without a plan for the neighborhood’s future, the status quo presents several risks: continued flooding and environmental degradation, spot rezonings and variances that will eventually result in major land use changes that would lack any sort of comprehensive planning, and the ongoing proliferation of hotels, big-box stores, self-storage facilities, and nightclubs that are allowed as-of-right under the existing zoning.

More than that: many stakeholders believe that the shared vision for a strong Gowanus future – one with infrastructure that can handle the challenges of our times, with a vibrant mix of uses, and reflective of Brooklyn’s diversity – can best be achieved through a responsible plan for some smart and balanced development. The Bridging Gowanus planning framework therefore strives to create a balanced, nuanced pathway for targeted and responsible growth, so that Gowanus can be a more sustainable, equitable, inclusive, and livable neighborhood.

This process did not endeavor to prepare a map, a specific urban design, or height and bulk rules for new buildings. Rather, what has been developed is a framework and the guidelines for more specific decision-making. Creative work on what the urban design for Gowanus should be has been undertaken by a range of designers and architects in recent yearsInnovative recent design efforts in Gowanus include dlandstudio, Eco-Gowanus, Gowanus By Design/Gowanus LowLine, the Gowanus Canal Conservancy’s Gowanus Design Summit, and TEDxGowanus. As part of Bridging Gowanus, the Center for Urban Pedagogy also conducted a neighborhood workshop on Gowanus urban design. Part of the challenge for the NYC Department of City Planning in getting Gowanus right will involve working with community stakeholders to build from this framework toward a full-fledged plan. To guide that effort, Bridging Gowanus stakeholders spoke to a series of principles:

+ The current Industrial Business Zone should be preserved for manufacturing, and strengthened, with no residential development allowed.

+ Any new zone allowing residential development should be both “mandatory mixed-use” and “mandatory inclusionary zoning.”

+ Thoughtful attention must be paid to building design to encourage integration with the existing neighborhood aesthetic.

+ A mix of heights (to avoid the Fourth Avenue canyon effect).

+ Active ground-floor uses (much of it maker-spaces) to animate the streetscape.

+ Canal-front properties must comply with waterfront open space requirements, active ground floor uses, and connections and enhancements to the Gowanus greenscape network.

+ High sustainability standards (e.g. onsite storm water retention, flood protection, low or no emissions, low or no waste).

+ Standards for good, safe, quality jobs, with an emphasis on hiring local residents.

Achieving these goals adds significant expense to development, and it will be necessary to develop clear, specific, feasible requirements that strike the right balance. Elaborating the specific standards was beyond the scope of Bridging Gowanus and will need to account for the de Blasio Administration’s current policy work on mandatory inclusionary zoning, 421-a tax exemption reform, industrial, and mixed-use zoning. However, an analysis by the New York City Council’s Land Use Division identifies highly significant increases in both land values and potential tax revenue if sites were rezoned (ranging from 4 to 24 times their current value, depending on assumptions about the changes) – sufficient to achieve significant public goals identified in this framework, and still meet return rates needed for private investment and development.

It is important to note that the timeline for new development will need to be synchronized with the Gowanus Canal Superfund cleanup, which will take place over the next decade. As the details of the cleanup emerge over the next year, they will need to inform plans for development.

The team behind this planning framework has sought to listen carefully. Many of the elements of this plan come from residents who likely will disagree with the provision for new residential development. Interested residents are invited to submit responses that will accompany this document, so others will be able to consider all points of view.