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This ‘Toll’ has support — Canal project moves forward

The Brooklyn Paper
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A controversial mixed-income housing project on the banks of the Gowanus Canal quietly passed another hurdle in the public review process when the Department of City Planning approved it with almost no fanfare two weeks ago.

The discreet decision by City Planning to approve Toll Brothers’ request to rezone manufacturing land to build 447 units of housing in a complex of townhouses and apartment towers up to 12 stories on two blocks bounded by Carroll, Second and Bond streets and the Gowanus Canal prompted an outcry from neighborhood opponents, who just discovered the ruling this week.

“[City Planning] make[s] a great show of listening to community members who take time off from work and family to give testimony,” fumed Katia Kelly on her Carroll Gardens blog Pardon Me For Asking, which first reported the ruling.

“The decisions are foregone conclusions and an exercise in futility if one opposes a development,” she wrote.

Toll Brothers has run into criticism that its project is too tall for the existing industrial neighborhood around it. But the heights of their buildings roughly matches city guidelines for future residential construction along the infamous waterway.

Another worry has been that the severity of environmental contamination in the water and on the land is being overlooked in the effort to create a residential community in an area that was a toxic industrial hub.

Yet the plan also secured the support of Community Board 6 and Borough President Markowitz (who approved it, but called for shorter buildings) in earlier rounds of the rigorous land review process.

The Department of City Planning did not get back to The Brooklyn Paper on Monday in time for our intense online deadline.

The last test in the public review faced by Toll Brothers is before the City Council. Councilman Bill DeBlasio (D–Park Slope) will exert influence over the Council’s vote as councilmembers typically defer to the local legislator on land-use proposals.

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Reader Feedback

J. from Manhattan says:
Why anyone in their right mind would want to stop a project to increase housing space in an overexpensive place like New York City is ludicrous. Furthermore, the city's government ought to be raked over the coals for not allowing the developer to build as high as they like. This is New York people, not LA, a city that prides itself on height rather than sprawl. Save a farm, build higher.
March 3, 2009, 11:22 am
Publius from Bklyn USA says:
You couldn't pay me to live in that known cancer hot spot.
March 3, 2009, 11:42 am
Pat from Bay Ridge says:
"Too tall" is code for "I want my street to stay exactly the same forever", which is a curious position to hold in a city largely of renters. It's also code for "too much traffic", even when the complex in question is located 2 blocks from the F train.
March 3, 2009, 6:56 pm
Regg from Brooklyn says:
"Pat from Bay Ridge" is right.

Also: you can't build ANYTHING in NYC - even a park bench - w/o someone invoking the Big 3: too tall/big too much traffic environmentally iffy.
[As frosting, they'll also toss in "school overcrowding," "impact on small business," and - if possible - risk to some heretofore-ignored allegedly-historic Something.]
It's a tool for securing deal-sweeteners ... though many people do "want my street to stay exactly the same forever" (and the hell with everyone else).
In this case ... I wouldn't want to live on the Gowanus site, AND-BUT I also can't imagine WHY anyone would want it to stay as-is!
March 4, 2009, 10:58 am
john from ditmas park says:
Nostalgia and her twin siblings Thwarto and Dull seem to be the patron dieties of some Brooklyn neighborhoods.
March 4, 2009, 11:22 am
Anna from Bay Ridge says:
john from ditmas park says: "Nostalgia and her twin siblings Thwarto and Dull seem to be the patron dieties of some Brooklyn neighborhoods."
Yes -- circling the wagons, trying to freeze things in the 1950s, and viewing every tattered block through rose-colored glasses.
March 4, 2009, 11:56 am
harry from slope says:
nostalgia, thwarto and dull forget:

the 50s had jobs that made the site unsuitable to habitation. the things that messed up the environment. now that ther are not jobs, why shouldnt it be cleaned and lived in. hasnt the site been squatted on for years any ways?
March 4, 2009, 1:29 pm
Quint from Bay Ridge says:
Nostalgia, Thwarto and Dull's pals, the Figmentos, view the area as a "historic district":

http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/31/12/31_12_the_historic_gowanus.html
March 4, 2009, 2:16 pm
tony from gowanus says:
does this mean my property is finally worth something ,even in these bad economic times
March 7, 2009, 5:34 pm
Allen from NYC says:
tony from gowanus says: 'does this mean my property is finally worth something ,even in these bad economic times'

Who knows.
Just wait 'til they start putting up billboards showing rich people in evening wear or tennis whites, laughing and hoisting cocktails as they gaze over their hotel balcony to the palm-tree-lined Gowanus.
March 9, 2009, 3:22 pm

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