The Department of City Planning (DCP) unveiled its guidebook for future development in Gowanus.
The 118-page document, titled the Gowanus Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) Vision Plan, offers suggestions and goals for commercial, industrial, and residential growth in the Brooklyn neighborhood.
“The Vision Plan that we’re releasing today contains recommendations for infrastructure and workforce training, and lays out a land use framework that will help keep the Gowanus portion of the IBZ a bustling and dynamic jobs hub for decades to come,” explained DCP director Marisa Lago in a statement.
The new document represents the culmination of a multi-year effort to organize a comprehensive plan for the historically industrial area.
While researching for the study, DCP worked closely with Councilman Brad Lander, held multiple town hall meetings with members of Community Board 6, and consulted various environmental experts.
The study area included about 20 blocks of the neighborhood between Third and Hamilton avenues to Third Avenue and 16th Street.
“While the Gowanus IBZ continues to flourish as a local employment hub, the existing zoning has remained largely unchanged since 1961, limiting the ability for businesses to grow and expand,” explains the document’s opening statement. “The study’s core goals are to put forth a land use framework that can inform future private land use applications, and identify infrastructure and workforce development opportunities that can reinforce the area as a 21st century jobs hub.”
Topics addressed in the final document include land use, transportation, infrastructure, and workforce development. A great amount of the guide is also dedicated to strategies for cleaning the highly polluted Gowanus Canal.
Primarily, the guide urged the Department of Environmental Protection to build capture tanks that will reduce sewage and stormwater runoff from going into the canal.
The plan comes on the heels of a months-long controversy surrounding a rezoning of a large majority of Gowanus. The rezoning was originally conceived by ex-Mayor Michael Bloomberg but has found new life under Mayor bill de Blasio.
It would rezone 80 square blocks of the neighborhood to make way for new developments, including a controversial plan to build a complex on the highly polluted “Public Place” site along the Gowanus Canal.
Community groups including Voice of Gowanus have consistently opposed the rezoning. Their criticism is directed at both the legal process to approve the rezoning and the environmental risks that could come with new development.
The group successfully secured a temporary restraining order that prevented the rezoning from entering the land use review process. However, New York Supreme Court Justice Katherine Levine ruled to allow the city to continue with the public review process so long as an in-person hearing option was offered for those without internet access.
The in-person hearing will take place at J.J. Byrne Playground in Park Slope and will coincide with the virtual hearing. The date and time are yet to be announced.
The Gowanus Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) Vision Plan supports the rezoning and is largely built on the assumption that the measure will pass. However, the ULURP process typically takes seven months, leaving time for a new mayor and City Council to change course in Gowanus.