Monday, March 18, 2013

Lightstone Group's Plans And Drawings For Gowanus Project Approved By City Planning, But Developer Still Needs Waterfront Certificate

NYC Department Of City Planning Hearing for Lightstone Group's Gowanus development  
Commissioner Betty Chen, Commissioner Michelle De La Uz, and Amanda Burden,  Chair of the NYC Department Of City Planning
Commissioner Michelle De La Uz and City Planning Chair Amanda Burden
(De La Uz is the executive director of the 5th Ave. Committee. During the Lightstone discussion, she recused herself, since the developer has contracted with the 5th Avenue Committee to manage the affordable units included in the project.)
 Amanda Burden,  Chair of the City Planning Commission
Purnima Kapur, City Planning Brooklyn Director
Aline Fader, representing NYC DCP Brooklyn Office, presents Lightstone's newest plan
Aline Fader and colleague present Lightstone Groups's as-of-right project

Just a few days ago, it was announced that Lightstone Group is proceeding with its 500,000 square feet mixed-use housing development on the shores of the Gowanus Canal at 363-365 Bond Street as an as-of-right development and has abandoned the minor modification which it had previously requested of NYC's Department of City Planning (DCP).

During DCP's review session on Monday afternoon, representatives of the Brooklyn DCP office explained that Lightstone, apparently wanting to avoid the risk of legal action,  has withdrawn its minor modification application and has decided to pursue the as-of-right development under zoning granted in 2009.
This project had come in front of the commission once before in September 2012 as a 'minor modification' of the original 2009 special permit project previously granted to Toll Brothers.

This as-of-right development is nevertheless subject to City Planning Commission approval because the 2009 special permit project was made subject to a restrictive declaration that was attached to the plans and drawings.

One of the purposes of the restrictive process was to help insure that the key urban design principals of the special permit project, which ensures that the taller portions of the development should be on the canal side and the lower portions should be along Bond Street, would be respected.

The second restriction has to do with Waterfront Zoning Regulations, which did not apply to the Gowanus Canal at the time of the original approval in early 2009.  However, later the same year, the City Council made the canal subject to the zoning regulations and water front open space will now be required in connection with the as-of-right project under those provisions.

The original 2009 project provide public open space along the canal that was designed "in the spirit of" the Waterfront Regulations. It did not strictly adhere to them.  Lightstone has modified the drawings to allow the requited waterfront public access area to be included, resulting "in a net increase of open space on the Southern block, where the building is being pushed back by approximately 20 feet."

To address FEMA's recently released Advisory Base Flood Elevations and  changes to the Building Code,  the site will be raised by 2 feet at First Street. Lightstone will elevate the ground floor of the building approximately 1.1 foot and make the street level parking garage a "bath tub structure".

At yesterday's DCP session, Lightstone sought approval for the plans and drawings for the as-of right project.
The Planning Commission votes unanimously to grant the approval.

However, at a later date, the applicant will need to seek a Waterfront Certificate from Chair Amanda Burden in regards to the design of the waterfront open space. The certificate will specify the design of the open space and certify that it meets the zoning requirements. The applicant is expected to file the application later this year.

"And at that point, and only at that point, will the developer be able to begin construction. So it's really a two-step process" a representative of the Brooklyn DCP office was quick to point out during the presentation.


Anonymous said...

Doomed. How can that thing get approval????
Where are 700 people planning on getting to work? Park cars ? Flush? Toxic greed.

A sad neighbor.

Anonymous said...

Since it's apparent that this thing is being pushed through, when is it realistically going to break ground? (I live up the block on 1st.) Any insiders care to comment?

A Neighbor of Yours said...

Great news! New York City needs housing. This is the start of an important turn around this neighborhood and this city needs.
Why is it that parking is always the issue people cite when they want to oppose development? This city is made for dense urban development. The city's transportation network is well sized to accommodate this development. People who insist on owning a car can buy a parking spot or find one of the many publicly subsidized spots available on the city's streets.

Anonymous said...

Are we doomed?

There must be a way our community can rally to stop this contamination cleanup and preserve this property for truck parking, sweatshop dry cleaning and car service dispatch offices!

Anonymous said...

Note zoning is R7/M1 mixed use.


#Developments for predominantly community facility# or #commercial use# in R3, R4, R5 Districts; C1 or C2 in R1 thru R5 Districts; and C3 Districts

30 ft.

In all other Districts; (except R1 and R2)
#Shore Public Walkway# Width

40 ft.

Looks like there would needs to be a 40 foot waterfront yard.

Anonymous said...

I just looked at Lightstone Groups's new drawing for this project and they show a Gownaus Canal that even the US EPA had not envisioned, with nice blue waters and what seems like a wider waterway. It's so nice to see what the developers think the future will look like. However, their future seem to leave out raising sea levels, more storms and wadding through flooded streets along the beautiful Gowanus Canal. The next chapter in this story will be written in ten years when the water of the Gowanus take over the front yards of these new buildings3839

Anonymous said...

Finally some new housing!! Does anybody know will EPA's cleanup be done in time for its opening ??

George Fiala said...

Ooh, they're in big trouble. They still need approval from, who? Amanda Burden? That's like me needing approval from my brain from eating a hot fudge sundae.

PS - I love hot fudge sundaes.

Louise Louise said...

Thank you for your diligent coverage, K. Now I need to wretch, both over the drawing and the predictable and banal real estate plant here... Welcome, schmucks!

Anonymous said...

Some of the posters here who support this horrible nightmare obviously do not live around the canal or Carroll Gardens. There goes the sky views, the quiet nights. The unpacked subways. Hopefully they will flip a coin and see that the R train is closer. I love how people are buying into a toxic dump. There s a studio over the Canal on Nevins. Those people are sick constantly. The smells. The proximity. Who and why ? Why so huge? What is the point of this?? This is no affordable housing. It's opportunistic crap.

growler said...

@A Neighbor of Yours: Why is parking an issue? I lived on Union half a block from the canal and had a car. Was subletting from a woman who had a car. The owner of the building had a car. Her daughter and son-in-law who lived in the building next door had two cars. All parked on the street. I now live in a building that has a garage, yet park on the street. My garage is full, so I couldn't park there if I wanted to, but I don't want to because it is too expensive.

Yes, this new development will likely have a garage, but it will not have room for as many cars as owned by those who live there, which will mean those people will park on the street. Which means there won't be "many publicly subsidized spots available." It's relatively easy to find parking in that area now, but the continued development of Brooklyn means it won't be (Trust me; I live much closer to Barclays Center now, and it's been much more of an ordeal to find a space when moving the car twice a week than it was before that place opened).

Also, presumably, the people who move in there will have many and henceforth cars. Sure, they'll take the subway: to and from work. But they'll take their cars for weekend trips and drives to Costco and Fairway. Also also, I know there are lots/garages in the neighborhood, but nowhere near as many as in Manhattan.

My only solace is all the ruined cars when the Gowanus floods.

Anonymous said...

Current actions by DCP demonstrate that the city doesn't believe we need more housing, nor does the city believe in the effects that are expected to occur due to climate change.
While DCP was advancing the Lightstone 13story housing project in the Gowanus swamp, at the same hearings on Tuesday, DCP advanced a down zoning for Crown Heights-a community at the top of the hill that saw no ill effects from the recent hurricanes.
Limiting housing to 45 feet at the top of the hill while allowing housing to be concentrated at 140 feet next to the raising waters of the shore line is the most irresponsible urban planning scheme the city could possible advance at this time.

Anonymous said...

A family of 4 earning $50,000 / year cannot afford a car so 140 renters won't own cars. Of the 560 market apartments, most are studios and 1 bedrooms and many of those renters won't own cars.

Should we now start complaining how these new Gowanus tenants will clog our streets with their bicycles? They won't drive to Fairway - Whole Foods is a short walk from the apartments.

Anonymous said...

Of course a family of 4 earning $50,000 a year can afford a car! It might not be new or fully insured. And if I were to live on the canal, I wouldn't want a new car that surely will get flooded. A bigger concern should be even more overcrowded schools and subways.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see the overcrowding of schools, streets and subways, hear the complaints of flooding, smells, sewage and rats, and the muggings when the newbies stroll down Bond street at 3am and have their iPhones swiped. Then the vendettas against local businesses such as Happy Cleaners because their chemicals pose a health hazard. But at least they will have a nice new Fairway to shop at!