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Gowanus Rezoning Process To Launch Early Next Year

The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn

One neighborhood rezoning plan from Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration is set to move through the approval process early next year.

Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Vicki Been announced that the city will begin meeting with the community about the proposed Gowanus rezoning in January, Brooklyn Paper reported. The proposed rezoning would create 5,000 market-rate units and 3,000 affordable units. 

“If we get Gowanus right — it’s not there yet, but it’s clearly possible — it has the potential to help us move forward from this dark time toward a more equitable, sustainable, and economically vibrant city,” City Council members Stephen Levin and Brad Lander, who represent parts of the area that would fall under the rezoning, said in a statement Thursday. 

The announcement comes after a summer of debate around the city’s rezoning process amid a pandemic that has exposed the health, housing and economic racial inequalities that plague New York City.  

The mayor's proposed neighborhood rezonings were proposed in part to infuse affordable housing and jobs into key neighborhoods throughout the city. 

Some community members in neighborhoods where rezonings have already gone into effect criticized the land-use review process, claiming it has displaced the working class, businesses and residents of color by driving commercial and residential rents up, making it unaffordable for them to live and work in their communities.

In a letter-writing campaign in June, the pro-development group Open New York pushed the city to take up the Gowanus proposal, which had been stalled in the city's Universal Land Use Review Process pipeline amid the city’s shutdown, on the basis of its demographic makeup, The Real Deal reported. Other neighborhoods de Blasio has successfully rezoned, such as Inwood and East New York, have a lower average income and are more racially diverse. 

A New York state appellate court unanimously ruled in favor of the city in the case of the Inwood rezoning after some residents took the city to court, demanding that City Hall conduct a racial impact statement. The city argued no such impact statement was needed under law. 

“[Gowanus] is the only affluent, majority-white, high-opportunity neighborhood that the de Blasio administration has proposed rezoning for greater densities,” Open New York said to TRD. “[Dropping the proposal] will confirm the worst suspicions about New York’s leadership: that for all its talk about racial, economic and environmental justice, it has no interest in giving working New Yorkers a chance to live in affluent neighborhoods.”

Been said that there is “no room in this crisis for nay-sayers,” according to Brooklyn Paper. She said the city needs jobs and housing, so there must be a path forward on the rezoning.