Gowanus Rezoning Approval Appears Imminent Following New Pact

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Mayor Bill de Blasio has reached a deal with local politicians and community groups that would pave the way for the approval of the Gowanus, Brooklyn, rezoning by promising to pump millions for repairs into nearby public housing complexes.

The agreement announced on Wednesday, ahead of two New York City Council votes on the plans, calls for $200 million to fund renovations of all apartments in the Gowanus Houses and Wyckoff Houses as well as to reopen community centers in both properties.

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It also calls for strict stormwater retention procedures before any new “construction starts” to avoid further polluting the Gowanus Canal; $174 million to upgrade the neighborhood’s sewer system; and an oversight task force comprised of residents and community groups to ensure the rezoning meets its goals.

“After nearly a decade of conversations among neighbors, and in partnership with the Department of City Planning and City Hall, this community has created one of the best models for inclusive growth anywhere, with strong attention to equity and affordability,” Councilmember Brad Lander, who announced the agreement with Councilmember Stephen Levin, said in a statement (both represent the area). “Debates about development are not easy, but I am truly proud of the way we’ve engaged them here.”

The rezoning, which is now expected to win approvals from the City Council, would lead to the construction of as many 8,000 homes with 3,000 of them set to be affordable. A report found that it would make Gowanus more diverse and less segregated.

However, it was met with opposition from a local community group, Voice of Gowanus, which sued to tank de Blasio’s most ambitious rezoning plan because public hearings for it had to be held over Zoom due to the pandemic.

A judge dismissed the lawsuit against the rezoning in March and the City Planning Commission voted to approve the plan in September.

Despite some local groups praising the new agreement on Wednesday, others were not convinced. Voice of Gowanus said in a statement that the plan still fails “to account for climate change” and that “any community group that goes along with this rezoning today is signaling hard that it does not care about our environment or the health and safety of New Yorkers.”

The rezoning will now go for a vote in front of two City Council subcommittees on Wednesday before eventually moving to a vote by the full City Council and the mayor’s office for final approval.

Nicholas Rizzi can be reached at nrizzi@commercialobserver.com.