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Gowanus rezoning may happen with community input

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The city will begin studying the neighborhood this fall

It’s been just over a couple of months since the massive 700-unit rental building overlooking the Gowanus Canal began welcoming its first tenants, and last month, plans were announced for a hotel in the neighborhood. Now, the Bill de Blasio administration has announced that it’s looking to rezone parts of Gowanus to encourage more residential development and to meet the mayor’s affordable housing agenda, Politico reports.

The de Blasio administration’s consideration is in part a response to a plan created by Gowanus residents between 2013-2015 known as Bridging Gowanus. That plan has the backing of local City Councilman Brad Lander, and essentially supports more residential development as long as there’s low and middle-income housing in the mix as well, along with space for manufacturing, the arts, and improvements to local infrastructure. Lander is scheduled to host a public meeting to get feedback on this proposal next Tuesday night from 5-8 p.m. at the Bell House.

The city will start studying the neighborhood this fall, according to Politico, before deciding on a formal proposal. That will be followed by months of meetings and deliberations, as these things tend to go, before the rezoning actually goes through.

Architecture critic Michael Kimmelman questioned the effectiveness of de Blasio’s affordable housing agenda, following the news that his administration was looking to rezone Gowanus. He wondered why the federal government was no longer supporting affordable housing projects directly, and whether initiatives like the one put forth by de Blasio would be unaffordable to most New Yorkers in need of affordable housing.

It’s been known for a while that de Blasio intends to rezone several neighborhoods in the city to forward the affordable housing agenda. The East New York rezoning was the first to move forward, and despite the local City Councilman there getting several concessions from the city on the rezoning, local residents were largely unimpressed, and housing advocates continue to worry about the rezoning pricing out existing residents.

Local elected officials have also raised concerns about a proposed rezoning on the North Shore on Staten Island primarily due to the height and scale of the buildings.

The Bridging Gowanus proposal was developed over 20 public meetings with 300 people from the neighborhood starting in August 2013. This group will now work with the city’s Department of City Planning to study a rezoning proposal for the neighborhood, and in the lead up to that, several meetings will be held until the first week of September, where residents can provide continued feedback on this plan.

"It’s not easy for a community to plan for the future amidst change," Lander said in a statement. "But the need and the opportunity are clear. That’s why hundreds of people took part in the first phases of Bridging Gowanus, and why we look forward to even more involvement now."