Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Can Condos Even Be Built Along The Gowanus Canal?

Last night was an eventful one at Scotto's Funeral Parlor, what with the Carroll Garden's Neighborhood Association's meeting about rezoning and the Smith Street Scarano debacle going on. Is ours the only community that holds its neighborhood meetings at a funeral home? I know this is Carroll Gardens and things are done differently here, but I just remember walking into what I though was a meeting once just to catch a glimpse of a dearly departed at the back of the room. Since then I have had an unsettled feeling everytime I attend a meeting of this worthwhile group. (Please someone: won't you offer them a more fitting meeting place? )
My husband was in attendance since he is pretty involved with C.G.N.A. Downzoning the neighborhood in time to save it from high-rises is high on his and the group's priority. But it seems that every time they try to move the agenda forward, it gets somehow tied in with the Gowanus Canal rezoning from manufacturing to residential. Funny how that works.
Our elected officials have a way of promising help with protecting C.G. in exchange for support in building high-rises along the shores of the canal. That is a clever ruse by our politicians, but a deal that C.G.N.A. should not make.
There are dark forces busy along the Gowanus. Developers are dreaming of making a fortune by building residential housing. Yes, I know, its all about the mighty dollar.
Of course there is the tiny little fact that most of the land is pretty much polluted and highly toxic. So this "brownfield" area first has to be cleaned up under the New York Brownfiled Cleanup program which give tax incentived to developers in exchange for cleaning the land. It may take awhile for all this to fall into place, but rest assured, the developers and the politicians already see a type of Battery Park along the Gowanus, high end condos starting at a "million five".
Problem is, under the New York Brownfield Cleanup Program, building condos on that land is forbidden. A friend who is very involved with this issue. sent me the link to the N.Y. Cleanut Program a while ago. If I am not mistaken, it is pretty clearly stated that no privately owned housing is to be sold on that land.
Here it is:
The New York Brownfield Cleanup Program
From an analysis made by the law firm Knauf and Shaw, LLP
"In 2003, the New York State Legislature created the Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP), which is primarily set forth in Title 14 of New York Environmental Conservation Law Article 27. The law, which is administered by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), provides a process for voluntary cleanup of sites contaminated with hazardous waste or petroleum, rewarding the applicant with a liability release and tax incentives
Condominium and single-family residential home projects are not covered by the tax credits because the credits only apply to depreciable property. The legislative bill drafters did not want the credits to apply to “for sale” property, including condominiums and single-family residential homes, because they did not want developers constructing remedial systems that may operate for extended periods of time and pass on the responsibility to operate such systems to home owners. A legislative fix is not anticipated in the near term. However, the program can be used for residential apartment development, and commercial developments that are part of the same development projects. Condominiums can be constructed but the proportional share of the project attributed to the condominiums would lose the tax credits for the portion of the project. There is currently a controversy over whether the tax credits do apply to co-operative development projects where the developer still owns the real estate, but sells shares in the co-operative corporation. Confirmation from the state on the co-op issue is anticipated shortly since several developers may be filing petitions with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance to clarify the issue.

Now I don't know what all of this means, but reading the above passage makes me wonder if anyone has even considered this when dreaming about privately owned condos along the Gowanus. It sure sounds to me that only rental buildings and maybe co-ops may be allowed.
Does anyone out there have a better idea? And are the mighty forces of the Gowanus just ignoring this? Just asking!


Anonymous said...

Wow, this was illuminating info - and why isn't City Planning aware of this? People really need to get educated about the Gowanus. 1. It is an open sewer. 2. It is a flood zone. 3. Every time it floods that water getting into the streets and into peoples' basements is full of crap (literally) as well as polluted by all kinds of post-industrial use. 4. Gowanus is a hurricane evacuation area. No place for dense population envisioned by politicians and developers.

Anonymous said...

This was my first CGNA meeting and I think the whole funeral home thing is a hoot. Eccentric in a typical Carol Gardens way. And it made for a great picture of a very pious DeBlasio!

Sherman said...

Why is everyone so ant-Gowanus housing. If it can be done right with proper clean up then why not. Housing along this area can only be a good thing for Brooklyn. It will connect Carroll Gardens/Boerum Hill to Park Slop and can be a wonderful area. Plus this will clean up the area which for years the goverment forgot about because it was in an area that wasn't desirable. Just because Developers can make a lot of money from this doesn't mean it's bad. It just has to be done right (as to clean up and rigt mix of buildings).

Anonymous said...

Not for nothing but the Gowanus area is zoned M for a reason. New York City needs to set aside some space for manufacturing and industrial uses. The paranoia about development in Carrol Gardens is being driven by Buddy Scotto and his daughter who want to wedge into the manufacturing zone down the hill on either side of the canal, especially the so-called "public place".
If landmarking or historic districts are needed fine but the fear of big developers buying up space is entirely unjustified. And , demon though Mr. Scarano may be a six or seven story building over a subway stop is an entirely appropriate level of density. It is called transit oriented devleopment (TOD) Anything less is inappropriate and a waste of space. No buildings are being demolished for this development. It is now an empty lot.

Anonymous said...

I think the hoopla over 360 Smith is nonsense. Selfish, hysterical and typical kneejerk response by CAVE people (citizens against virtually anything).
Under current zoning there are few parcels that could be assembled to build this tall. A few in the neighborhood doesn't hurt anything and is much better than the eyesore that is there now.
I don't understand why people are not more riled about the litter, garbage in streets, rats in CarrollPark, etc. No a few 6 or 8 story buildings will destroy there quality of life but noise, dirty streets etc doesn't seem to be a big deal.
Degraw between Hoyt Bond has taller building - is that such a horrible block? Should 505 Court St be torn down?

Anonymous said...

dear anon

wouldn't that make them CAVA people?

tsk tsk