Pratt Center developed and facilitated the Bridging Gowanus community planning process, which was convened by the local elected officials representing the Gowanus area, and organized together with community leaders from resident, civic, environmental, business, arts and housing groups, and Community Board 6. The goal was to develop the outlines of a comprehensive, community-based infrastructure and land use plan for a safe, vibrant, and sustainable Gowanus area.
Between 2013 and 2015, we held dozens of public meetings, large forums and small working groups, in public housing developments, churches, parks, and business, with hundreds of participants including long-time and newer homeowners, tenants, NYCHA residents, small business owners, environmental activists, artists, affordable housing advocates, and more.
In the summer of 2016, we asked for feedback to prioritize these recommendations, and more than 500 stakeholders weighed in online and at in-person open house events. The overarching goals that emerged from this process were:
- A Sustainable, Resilient, Environmentally Healthy Community: Secure infrastructure investments that support the comprehensive cleanup of the Gowanus Canal, improved water and air quality, fewer floods and sewer back-ups, and a sustainable future in the face of climate change.
- Invest in Our Parks, Schools, Transit, and Waterfront: Guarantee upfront investments in the open space, schools, public transportation, and other infrastructure needed to sustain current and proposed growth.
- Make the Gowanus Canal waterfront publicly accessible.
- Strengthen the Manufacturing Sector and Create Good Jobs: Ensure that manufacturing can thrive in Gowanus, especially in the “Industrial Business Zone” (IBZ). Help low-income residents benefit from the jobs and economic activity in manufacturing, arts, and environmental remediation, and open space maintenance.
- Keep Gowanus Creative and Mixed-Use: Strengthen the genuine mix of uses that makes Gowanus unique – but is under threat. Make sure that new residential development is balanced with affordable space for light industry, artists, and not-for-profits. Craft a historic preservation plan.
- Preserve + Create Affordable Housing for an Inclusive Community: Make overdue repairs and investments at NYCHA developments. Apply “mandatory inclusionary housing” where new housing is allowed, to require construction of new affordable units. Ensure a majority-affordable development on the “Public Place” site to create new low- and moderate-income homes, including senior housing. Strengthen protections for existing tenants.
- Secure a Pathway for Responsible Growth: Make overdue repairs and investments at NYCHA developments. Apply “mandatory inclusionary housing” where new housing is allowed, to require construction of new affordable units. Ensure a majority-affordable development on the “Public Place” site to create new low- and moderate-income homes, including senior housing. Strengthen protections for existing tenants.
Find the full Bridging Gowanus report and recommendations here.