This ‘Toll’ has support — Canal project moves forward

Toll Brothers testing the waters

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.

This is what the site of the Toll Brothers proposal looks like now.
The Brooklyn Paper / Julie Rosenberg