After a planned condo development was abandoned by another company a few years ago, developers at the Lightstone Group stepped in, taking over many of the permits and switching plans to accommodate more numerous (and more modest) rental apartments on the property instead, resulting in a planned 770-apartment complex on.
Naturally, the same things that attracted the developers (the "waterfront location and "vibrant artistic community and cultural scene") are the exact same reason many longtime residents are wary of the whole thing.
In interviews with the New York TImes, some residents expressed concern about the edging out of "people making pottery, stained glass, woodworkers," while others cited concerns that the project would just mean that much more sewage flowing into the canal, along with higher rents in an under-the-radar neighborhood that's already in the midst of a pricey real estate upswing.
At present, a local community board is attempting to block the project until an environmental review is conducted, a proposal that will be reviewed tomorrow at a meeting of the city's Planning Commission.
So, as with almost any new development, heavy, legitimate concerns. But still, maybe it could be good?
“This is the tipping point for Gowanus,” explained one local activist and former Brooklyn College professor. “What’s going to be interesting is to see whether it’s going to contribute to a kind of middle- and upper-middle-income neighborhood in between gentrified Carroll Gardens and highly gentrified Park Slope. What’s unusual about this project is it’s being done in the middle of the wasteland.”
Even so, some local environmentalists actually argue that having a major real estate development on the canal would be a good thing, publicly forcing the city into further cleanup efforts.
However, in spite of all these concerns about further sullying the canal's already extremely sullied waters, no one seems to be at all worried about the possible health problems that might result in encouraging people to live atop a notorious liquid trash heap. And, given the recent damage to air quality that's arisen from efforts to clean Newtown Creek, as well as longstanding pollutants coming from the water in Greenpoint, this seems worth considering.
But hey, why worry? As in all matters of impending gentrification, developers and city officials have it all taken care of, no question. A Lightstone spokesman said, "By the time the project is ready to rent, the canal will be a lot cleaner."
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.