Thursday, June 11, 2020

Demand a Moratorium on the Gowanus Rezone


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Dear Representative,

As a resident of New York City, I am writing to demand that a moratorium be placed on proceeding with the Gowanus Rezone Proposal, which incorporates parts of Boerum Hill, Park Slope, and Carroll Gardens, until the city’s needs can be reassessed. In the wake of COVID-19, with both the city and state budgets in crisis, the economy in free fall, and 20% of Americans having lost their jobs—including a disproportionate number of people of color— this plan is woefully out of step with what the city needs right now, or what it can afford.

In addition, residents are fleeing the city in droves, and we are already seeing a net reduction in population, which we can expect to continue in the coming years. This is not the time to flood the market with a glut of luxury housing units, while offering major financial incentives and giveaways to developers. Putting it forward now is both fiscally irresponsible, and socially unjust.

The Gowanus Rezone plan gives developers the green light to build 22 to 30-story towers along the Gowanus Canal, Fourth Avenue, and many other designated areas of adjoining neighborhoods. It is expected to create at least 6500 new luxury apartments.

The plan also includes enormous developer incentives and giveaways. Developers will be excluded from paying any property taxes for at least 25 years, thereby contributing absolutely nothing to the infrastructure that will be needed for the 20,000 new tenants predicted to flood the neighborhood once construction is completed. This is NYC’s largest rezoning project to date, yet developers will contribute no money towards schools, and no money towards transportation.

But the biggest giveaway is the estimated half a billion dollars of New York State taxpayer money that will be handed over to the developers for building in brownfield areas. This money is to subsidize their building costs, NOT the cleanup.

The need for new housing units in NYC must also be re-examined, including the needs for so-called “affordable” units. While the country is entering a recession—perhaps a depression—and the city is experiencing a major population reduction, existing housing stock will of necessity become more affordable. And the people who will be most in need of housing—the enormous numbers of residents who now find themselves out of work—will not even qualify for the proposed affordable units.

This is also not the time to eliminate designated manufacturing zones, and put even more people out of work, as would occur under the current plan. Shortages of necessary supplies during the COVID-19 crisis proved the city’s need for local, American-made products, and the physical space to allow such manufacturing to more widely bloom.

In the wake of COVID-19, while the city, state, and Brooklyn residents are in a state of financial decline, the city is seeing an enormous number of residents fleeing the city, and massive numbers of citizens are out of work, subsidizing luxury towers built by wealthy developers is UNJUST and FINANCIALLY IRRESPONSIBLE.


Voice of Gowanus
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Anonymous said...

I'm confused. If people are leaving the city in droves, and this rezoning would flood the market with new units, wouldn't that bring down prices? Fewer buyers, more sellers, right?

Katia said...

Correct. So shouldn’t we first wait and see if we need so many new units? Or if we need to adjust for crowding? This petition just asks for time for things to become clearer before the City opens up Gowanus to the biggest rezoning in NYC history

Unknown said...

The city is already flooded with new units. So prices will *already* become more affordable.

Anonymous said...

As an owner of a local small business, I am all for this rezoning. I don't own any real estate myself, and have had to move because of rising rents, so it's not that I have an immediate gain in this. However, aren't we talking about spots like the former Pathmark, vacant lots that housed superfund site industry, etc? Are there really many low income families that will be pushed out by this action?
I imagine that this new development would finally force the city to address the overflow sewage problem into the canal. If they were razing something like the old Penn Station, or San Juan Hill, it would strike me as tragic, but what exactly is everyone looking to protect here?

Anonymous said...

I don't really understand why this project is happening? Why not invest in existing housing that is chronically underfunded (i.e. NYCHA)? What is the status of the project right now? The latest updates I see are in 2019.

Anonymous said...

hi local small business owner. The developers will be contributing actually zero to the overflow sewage problem, and will actually be contributing to it! making it much worse! and no, we aren't talking about the pathmark site, etc. The "gowanus rezone" is purposefully misleading. Unless you think fourth avenue from Atlantic avenue all the way to 9th street is considered gowanus. The developers are also hoping to brig 20,000 new residents to the neighborhood and pay no property taxes at all, so the infrastructure needed will be coming out of your taxes. if you think this is the best way to spend 1/2 a BILLION dollars of your own NY State taxes, to subsidize wealthy developers, then that's great! The question is, who does this rezone actually benefit? Especially now, in June of 2020, it seems foolish to move ahead before reassesing the city's need, unless it needs to pass immediately as a way for our electeds to secure developer $$ for their future election campaigns (*cough* lander for comptroller *cough*). We're just asking to wait and see if this is the best use of our funds, RIGHT NOW, with city and state budgets in crises, and hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers without jobs. This seems entirely reasonable.

Anonymous said...

Most are missing the point?

Proposed Gowanus Zoning = MIH, affordable housing requirement was passed in 2016. Done, with rezoning, we get "affordable" housing. yay.

Now our politicians want to claim this rezoning is good for our Gowanus community? Our elected officials have failed to provide NYCHA funding for needed repairs, failed to secure a zoning that recognizes Gowanus is a WATERFRONT community that needs a vibrant shoreline with art, performance and community interaction instead of dull "open space" at the edge which no one enjoys. Failed to mandate other urban design requirements to ensure a vibrant neighborhood. Failed to strengthen the makers vibe of Gowanus.

Failure of leadership.

COVID-19 : Many Gowanus residents telecommuted prior to 2020, staying inside their little box apartments so it is unlikely our transit would be overwhelmed with new 8k-16k Gowanus apartments but let's demand for the restoration of Union St bus service, that should NEVER have been cut without environmental review.

Anonymous said...

im all for will be decades until we have another chance to clean up and revitalize gowanus

Anonymous said...

I too am confused.

This letter seems to be opportunistic in that Covid is being used as a further justification for the opposition to the redevelopment. I think this is wrong.

While I am opposed to the redevelopment on its face because I think the scope is too large and because I think the necessary infrastructure should be put in place at least concurrently with development, my opposition has nothing to do with Covid.

Also, the developers will need to contribute to infrastructure in that the city will require each building to install giant tanks to hold storm run-off as not to overwhelm the sewer system when it rains. No one focuses on this requirement, but it will provide material relief to the sewer system when it rains.

Right now, the developers are certainly re-evaluating development plans as are construction lenders. Given construction costs, developers know they need to achieve a certain target price per square foot to make any development feasible. I am betting that projects that seemed like a dunk 6 months ago will be delayed indefinitely. This process will occur naturally, without any effort from the community.

Once the developers start backing away, I think the time will be ripe for the community to restart efforts to influence the redevelopment zoning.

Net, net, I think trying to parlay covid to garner support for opposition to the rezoning is wrong and I will not send this letter.

Margaret said...

11:43 You seem to contradict yourself. One the one hand you offer that "projects that seemed like a (slam) dunk 6 months ago will be delayed indefinitely. This process will occur naturally, without any effort from the community." That seems to me a reference to COVID 19 as to why it would no longer be a slam dunk to make development feasible. And on the other hand you say that to" parlay covid to garner support for opposition to the rezoning is wrong and I will not send this letter" Your last sentence makes a reference to COVID 19 as well, and why shouldn't the community make it ABSOLUTELY CLEAR to the powers that be that COVID 19 should be a consideration to have a moratorium for rezoning? The developers may know it already. But the community has a right to express this as well. After, we actually LIVE here and are the most affected by all this.

Anonymous said...

This is bad planning. And ugly. Have none of you been to Kent Avenue lately? It’s a canyon of towers. Have you not noticed the dredging and shoring up of the canal at the Carroll bridge in that lot used for parking trucks? Behind Lavender Lake bar? That ain’t just for the canal that’s for some piece of garbage condo that will most likely be built there. This is too much and not what anyone needs now. No thank you.