Gowanus Grove In Danger of Losing Space For New Rental Building

By Heather Holland on August 29, 2012 8:51am | Updated on August 29, 2012 1:54pm

CARROLL GARDENS —  Gowanus Grove, a popular outdoor music spot, will have to find a new home If a plan to build a block-wide rental building on the Gowanus Canal becomes reality, a developer said.

The Lightstone Group, a real estate company based in New York, has proposed to build a 700-unit rental building at 363-365 Bond St., which spans from Carroll Street to Second Street on the Gowanus Canal waterfront.

Gowanus Grove, popular for its DJ parties in the summer called Mister Sunday, currently occupies a portion of the block located at 400 Carroll St. The developer confirmed that it proposes to use the entire block and that Gowanus Grove will have to move if the plan reaches fruition.

“I like the city a little scruffy,” said Jorge Hernandez, an East Village resident who works in DUMBO and said he has frequented the DJ parties at Gowanus Grove. “Creative kids need cheap places to live and Gowanus is still off the main path.

“I can’t imagine people would want to pay to live near a stinky canal. It’s one thing when you’re high and getting down, no one cares.”

Lightstone Group representatives made a presentation to Community Board 6’s Landmarks/Land Use Committee on Thursday, detailing a plan that would cap the height of the building to twelve stories and include affordable as well as market-rate housing.

The developer told CB6 that the project is being treated as a “minor modification” to the original Toll Brother’s proposal and should not be subject to Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, said Craig Hammerman, district manager of CB6.

Initially, developer Toll Brothers planned to build a 447-unit rental building at the location, but after the Environmental Protection Agency deemed the Gowanus Canal a superfund site in 2010, the developer backed out of the deal.

“The original Toll Brothers proposal was highly controversial, and many of the same arguments for and against development of this site are being recirculated,” Hammerman said. “And at this time we are ready to host a review session next month if we need to, but until the Department of Planning clearly outlines what a ‘minor modification’ process is we are unclear as to what standing the community-at-large has.”

The developer, however, said it has plans to improve the aesthetic of the community, promising to fund and maintain an esplanade along the canal and purchase a brand new bulkhead that would keep toxins from land out of the canal, said Lightstone spokesman Ethan Geto.

“The Lightstone Group is working cooperatively with all four environmental agency groups including the EPA and the Mayors Office of Environmental Remediation,” said Geto. “The developer feels it will be successful in renting those units because the canal is increasingly becoming clean.”

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