Pratt Center Project

Sustainable Community Development

Gowanus Summit: Responsible Development

Pratt Center helped convene the Gowanus Summit, a coalition to establish ground rules for development in the Gowanus Canal area.

Pratt Center helped convene the Gowanus Summit: a coalition of civic, housing and community development, manufacturing, and labor groups to establish ground rules for development around the Gowanus Canal. Our work aimed to ensure that new development meets the needs of area residents and sets high standards for local quality of life.

The Gowanus Summit's Platform for Responsible Development of the Gowanus Canal Area, developed with the Pratt Center's support, calls for the following:

  • Affordable housing: at least 30% of apartments in developments of over 30 units should be permanently affordable to families at a wide range of incomes. On the city-owned site of the former gasworks on Smith Street, 60% of new housing should be affordable.
  • Space for industrial jobs must be preserved.
  • Responsible contractors & operators are essential on all large projects: employers that treat their workers fairly, create good job opportunities for local residents, deliver quality construction products, and operate quality developments, without unnecessary harm to the community.
  • Respect for community context: While allowing for new development and additional density in the canal area, rezoning must limit out-of-scale development in residential sections of Carroll Gardens.
  • Promote the mix of uses that make Gowanus special by establishing a special district designed to enable artisans and light industry and artisans to flourish.
  • Improve the infrastructure & environmental quality of the Canal and the surrounding area, including a comprehensive storm water management plan. New construction should be held to high standards of environmental performance and take measures to reduce sewage overflows.

The platform was agreed upon by a coalition that included the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation, Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation, Fifth Avenue Committee, Carroll Gardens Association, ACORN, Public Housing Communities, New York Industrial Retention Network, AFL-CIO, Mason Tenders' District Council of Greater New York, Laborers' International Union of North America, New York and Vicinity, Carpenters Labor-Management Corporation, Local 32B-J SEIU, New York City Central Labor Council, New York City District Council of Carpenters, New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, UNITE-HERE, and the Pratt Center for Community Development.

In October 2007, the coalition submitted its platform to the Department of City Planning, which is responsible for finalizing a framework for proposed land use changes in the one-and-a-half--mile area around the Gowanus Canal. Pressures for rezoning the area  mounted as developers moved to build large housing developments in the still largely industrial area.

Pratt Center also worked with the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation and the New York Industrial Retention Network on zoning and development strategies to preserve and enhance manufacturing, and genuinely mixed-use areas where manufacturing can co-exist with housing (rather than be displaced by it) in the Gowanus area.

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