With cleanup efforts underway along the notoriously polluted Canal and a slew of new developments rising, Gowanus is undoubtedly one of the top neighborhoods to watch. But we can’t talk about its future without also looking back at its history. On October 28th, the Municipal Art Society is hosting a walking tour of Gowanus led by architectural historian Matt Postal that will explore the area’s past as an industrial shipping center and its transformation into a trendy, artistic enclave. Not only will the two-hour tour take you to the city’s oldest concrete structure and oldest retractile bridge, but it’ll make stops at the new residential and commercial spaces. Interested in attending for free? MAS is giving away two tickets to “Gowanus Grows in Brooklyn.”
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Image via BHS
This renovation of a former ink and brush factory in the heart of Gowanus hits all the right notes, hearkening back the neighborhood’s industrial roots and channeling the current artsy vibe that permeates the blocks. Located at 459 Carroll Street, the residence occupies three floors of a massive brick structure built back in 1888, stretching more than 4,600 square feet of live/work space across three stories built atop a 25-foot by 100-foot lot. The super-sized property also comes with three generously proportioned artists studios and a beautiful 900-square-foot planted terrace engulfed by views of neighboring gardens and the cityscape. If you’re on the market for unpretentious luxury and lots of space to sprawl out in or wield a paintbrush, all of this can be yours for $3.95M.
Rendering courtesy of SCAPE Landscape Architecture
The Gowanus Canal Conservancy (GCC) has announced the launch of Gowanus Lowlands, a new comprehensive vision for the transformation of Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood and a ‘blueprint for NYC’s next great park.’ As 6sqft has previously reported, between developers eyeing the pricey parcel of southwest Brooklyn land as Paris on the Gowanus and the city’s ambitions to transform the long-embattled area into “Little Venice,” all eyes have been on the neighborhood and the once-toxic, steadily improving Superfund canal that anchors it. With an important rezoning on the horizon–the process kicked off last October with meetings to gauge community opinion–passions are running high. The conservancy has identified SCAPE landscape architecture studio to guide the Lowlands vision toward reality.
363 Bond Street, via Lightstone Group
When the Lightstone Group revealed their two-building, 700-unit, $350 million rental project at 363-365 Bond Street, right on the banks of the notoriously toxic Gowanus Canal, president Mitchell Hochberg said it was inspired by a residential project in the Canal Saint-Martin neighborhood in Paris that helped create a “newly hip atmosphere” near a similarly polluted waterway. Despite the area’s Superfund status, the promise of living in a trendy, up-and-coming area surely appealed to many; when the lottery opened for the 86 affordable units at #365, nearly 60,000 people applied. Now, the lottery is opening for the 54 below-market rate apartments at the under-construction #363, ranging from $833/month studios to $1,082/two-bedrooms, available to those earning 60 percent of the area median income.
Rendering of Powerhouse Workshop via Herzog & de Meuron
Despite its Superfund status, the Gowanus Canal has ushered in a Whole Foods, an artisanal ice cream factory, and more than one high-end residential development, but one vestige of its gritty, industrial days has remained–the so-called Batcave. Build in 1904 as the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company’s Central Power Station, the warehouse was taken out of service in the ’50s, becoming in the 2000s a home for squatters, venue for impromptu dance parties, and unofficial street art display. But it looks like the former warehouse will now join the ranks of its Brooklyn-esque neighbors, as the Times reports that Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron will transform the space into an art production factory and exhibition space to be called the Powerhouse Workshop, though it will preserve the iconic graffiti
Valentine’s Day may have just passed but the backyard of this Gowanus townhouse looks romantic for any day of the year. Decked out with greenery, tea lights and a mini guest house, it’s a nice perk to the historic brick three-bedroom, two-bathroom triplex townhouse at 112 14th Street. The $1.495 million pad is plenty charming inside, too, with exposed brick walls, four fireplaces and high ceilings throughout.
Renderings via Loci Architecture
Two summers ago, the Gowanus Alliance teamed up with Gowanus by Design on their vision to transform the land underneath the elevated subway tracks on 10th Street between Second and Third Avenues into a public park that would serve as a home for the iconic but dismantled Kentile Floors sign. Now that the MTA has completed its repairs on the tracks above, Brooklyn Paper reports that the group has tapped Loci Architecture for preliminary renderings of what this space, dubbed Under the Tracks Playground, could look like.
Rezoning and the promise of public right-of-way on the west Brooklyn Superfund canal could bring an esplanade like Williamsburg’s, a recreation area and lots of new development. The light-industrial zone wedged between pricey Park Slope and Carroll Gardens hasn’t accurately been a polluted flyover zone for decades, but the fact that it now boasts a flagship Whole Foods with a rooftop farm hasn’t gone unnoticed. As 6sqft reported recently, the canal-side enclave, despite the sometimes-fragrant waterway in its midst, is on a par with its neighbors as one of the city’s most expensive neighborhoods. Now Crain’s tells of rezoning plans and lucrative developments that could open the door for a public esplanade and waterfront amenities like those along the Hudson and the East River.
In our series 6sqft Studio Visits, we take you behind the scenes of the city’s up-and-coming and top designers and artists to give you a peek into the minds, and spaces, of NYC’s creative force. In this installment we take a tour of the Gowanus studio of Lite Brite Neon. Want to see your studio featured here, or want to nominate a friend? Get in touch!
Among the manufacturing and arts tenants in the Old American Can Factory, a converted six-building industrial complex at the Gowanus Canal, is Lite Brite Neon, which has been described as “the darling of artists and designers.” And after touring their funky workspace/showroom, the description definitely fits. They were founded in 1999 in Brooklyn and have been creating neon art, signage, lighting, and displays ever since, in addition to preserving and restoring historic neon. 6sqft recently got an insider’s look at their colorfully gritty home and spoke to lead designer Wayne Heller about how the company functions and what makes neon unique.
When the area surrounding the Gowanus Canal was designated a Superfund site by the EPA in 2010, it seemed all but impossible that the contaminated, warehouse-laden neighborhood could get on par with the rest of Brooklyn. But recent years have brought major cleanup efforts along the 1.8-mile Canal, leading to new additions like a Whole Foods (quite possibly the first sign of gentrification) and subsequent interest from developers in creating higher end housing. This fall, reports DNAinfo, the Department of City Planning will launch a study to explore a rezoning of Gowanus that would allow for more residential developments in what is currently an industrial section.
Locals, however, have similar concerns to those who opposed the recent, controversial East New York rezoning–that it will only incentive developers, causing displacement of longtime residents, and that any affordable housing put forth in the plan would still be out of reach for the lowest income residents. They’ve therefore created their own redevelopment plan called Bridging Gowanus, which, as the Times notes, calls for “greater density and more affordable apartments in return for improvements and guarantees that preserve the precarious soul of the district.”