The real estate community has been looking closely at Gowanus as of late thanks to rezoning plans that will likely spur high-end development and proposals for a public esplanade. To some, this waterfront vision seems a bit off due to the toxicity of the Canal and its history as a Superfund site, but naysayers may be changing their tune as a new report from the New York State Department of Health tells us that “limited direct contact with the canal’s waters, through boating or fishing” doesn’t increase the risk of cancer and other diseases, according to Gothamist. It’s still not safe to swim in the water, but, believe it or not, men and women of certain ages can even eat some of the Canal’s fish.
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.
Gowanus doesn’t welcome bargain hunters anymore, it seems. The up-and-coming Brooklyn neighborhood, where the local canal remains a superfund site, has rocketed to spot 14 of the city’s 50 most expensive neighborhoods, according to Property Shark’s final quarterly report for 2016. At this year’s end, the median sales price of homes in Gowanus rose by 68 percent—the largest gain of any area on the list.
Brooklyn’s Morbid Anatomy Museum, the black corner building at Seventh Street and Third Avenue dedicated to the beauty of death, is having a hard time staying alive. The museum opened two years ago with a full-bodied program of salon discussions, film and lecture series and quaint exhibitions such as “The Kittens’ Wedding” featuring Victorian-costumed taxidermied cats from the 1890s, as well as the permanent exhibits of artifacts and preserved specimens. Despite critical acclaim, the non-profit institute needs at least $75,000 to keeps its doors open through 2017.
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.”
This two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment occupies the top floor of 335 Carroll Street, a Gowanus warehouse converted not long ago to rental apartments. Asking $5,317/month, the apartment has shed its former warehouse skin for a much more modern aesthetic, which includes a chic designer kitchen.
The location of this lovely Brooklyn townhouse at 357 Hoyt Street is a dream combination of breezy, funky Gowanus and quaint, historic and classic Carroll Gardens. Everything surrounding it is either pretty or cool (or both), and on top of being subway adjacent, the borough’s flagship Whole Foods market is within just a few blocks.
This enviable home is about as perfect as you can get if you’re a brownstone buff and you’re not looking for four stories or a big yard. At three stories and 2,360 square feet, it’s not huge, but space is used efficiently and it’s still more spacious than many apartments at its asking price of $2.9 million. Renovated to perfection, the home’s interiors – designed by mother-daughter design team McGrath II – have been featured in both the New York Times home and garden section (according to the listing) and recently on 6sqft.
After all these years of jokes about catching syphilis or turning into a green mutant alien, it’s hard to imagine the Gowanus Canal as a pollutant-free place, but beginning this year it will undergo dredging and sub-aquatic capping as part of the USEPA Superfund Cleanup plan. This also includes the Gowanus Canal Sponge Park, “an 18,000-square-foot public space that will be built with engineered soil to absorb (hence “sponge”) stormwater that would otherwise pollute the canal, as well as plants to break down toxins and floating wetlands,” as 6sqft previously reported.
But before the notoriously toxic canal turns into the Venice of Brooklyn, a group of microbiologists want to catalogue and draw attention to exactly what type of unseen organisms have accumulated over the past 150 years, as they feel it’s important for work at other polluted urban environments. To do this, they’ve created the BK BioReactor, a roving watercraft that takes samples from 14 specific points along the canal. This data has been turned into a “mobile library,” complete with an interactive map that shows which microorganisms are located where and how heavily distributed they are. For example, Atrazine, a herbicide affecting the hormonal system, is present in most of the sites, as is Epsilonproteobacteria, which inhabit the digestive tracks of animals.
Sometimes what you see is more than first meets the eye. That was definitely the case in the early ’90s when internationally exhibited artist Daniel Reynolds, known for his utterly mesmerizing life-sized “Drinking Birds” installation, purchased this 30-foot-by-90-foot mixed-use building on the south side of Union Street in Gowanus.
This listing, priced at $3.5 million, is unique in that its beautiful live and work spaces were designed with an artist’s vision, as well as in its creative pedigree and many possibilities for use. Included are three market-rate lofts, a roof deck and an artist’s workspace–an excellent investment on a prime Brooklyn block. Each loft offers unique hand-crafted marble baths, restored working fireplaces with stone mantles, stainless steel kitchens, and restored 19th-century tin detailing put to use in an unconventional yet breathtaking way.
363-365 Bond Street, via Lightstone Group
One of the Lightstone Group‘s two new rental buildings in Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood is set to open Tuesday. The new residence at 365 Bond Street, along with its neighbor at 363 Bond (a year from completion) represent a $350 million effort by the developer to build 700 luxury rental apartments on the left bank of the Gowanus Canal. Designed to look like an historic brick-walled warehouse, market-rate apartments at 365 Bond start at over $2,000 a month for a studio and over $3,000 for a one-bedroom unit, according to the Wall Street Journal. Lightstone President Mitchell Hochberg says the project was inspired by the Canal Saint-Martin neighborhood in Paris, known for a residential project near a similarly polluted waterway which helped create a “newly hip atmosphere.”
The Gowanus Canal isn’t the first place that comes to mind when one thinks about lush waterfront parks, but that’s exactly the vision behind the long-planned Gowanus Canal Sponge Park, an 18,000-square-foot public space that will be built with engineered soil to absorb (hence “sponge”) stormwater that would otherwise pollute the canal, as well as plants to break down toxins and floating wetlands. It was first conceived back in 2008 by the Gowanus Canal Conservancy and Susannah Drake, principal at the landscape architecture firm DLANDstudio (who’s also responsible for the Queensway).
Now, seven years later, DNAinfo reports that state officials announced on Tuesday that construction has officially commenced on the $1.5 million project at the notorious Superfund site. The park will sit on city-owned land at the point where Second Street dead-ends at the canal. Workers are on site, digging out five feet of contaminated soil that will be sent to a special facility that handles toxic materials; during the next 90 days, the metal walkway will be installed; and plants will arrive in the spring.
Avery Hall Investments filed permits last week for an eight-story, 20-unit residential building at the corner of Third Avenue and St. Marks Place. The site is situated in the area where bucolic Boerum Hill meets the utilitarian factory lofts of Gowanus. The development at 125 Third Avenue will replace a one-story commercial building that Avery picked up earlier this year for $5.65 million according to city records. The team also recently broke ground on another Boerum Hill condominium at 472 Atlantic Avenue designed by the context-sensitive Morris Adjmi Architects.
During the mid-’90s and early 2000s, blobitecture was all the rage. But it didn’t take very long for the trend to fall out of favor—because at the end of the day you can’t really build a city full of blobby buildings. But it looks like the movement just might be seeing a second life within residential design. In this 2014 renovation by RAAD Studio, the architects transformed the innards of a historic brownstone on the border of Gowanus and Carroll Gardens into an ultra-modern space with clean lines, sleek surfaces, and most notably, an amoeba-like sculpture growing out of the living room wall.
If you’re one for Brooklyn’s more hidden gems, travel with us to Gowanus, where a fixer-upper at 162 10th Street was rescued by an architect who redesigned it for her family. The end result is a sophisticated interior with treasures at every turn. We’re talking tons of reclaimed materials and details that give this $1.195 million townhouse a built-in story hour.
Conversations about the Gowanus Canal are usually accompanied with a quip about STDs or mutant dolphins, but all joking aside, there’s no denying its murky waters also carry quite a bit of mystery and allure. The infrastructure, the architecture, and of course what’s floating within, is nothing short of intriguing, because really, what’s actually down there? Researchers at the Brooklyn Atlantis Project are just as curious as we are and they’ve constructed an unmanned water vehicle to go where no sane man dare go.
Another eye- and volume-popping mega-project by ODA Architects may be coming to Brooklyn, and this week’s chosen neighborhood is Gowanus. A recently posted video by ODA delves into the thought process of Eran Chen’s burgeoning firm and provides some shots of their recent work, including the provocative rendering shown here. We recognized the location only by the “Stop & Frisk Hands Off the Kids” text scrawled across the defunct Brooklyn Rapid Transit Powerhouse building (the “Bat Cave“) and pinpointed the project for the full-block parcel at 175-225 Third Street purchased by Kushner Companies and LIVWRK last year.
Update via LIVWRK/Kushner’s reps: “The developers are not working with ODA on this project and these designs do not represent our vision for this site or the Gowanus. We are committed to putting forth an outstanding plan that respects the context of the neighborhood and responds to the voices of local stakeholders.” As it turns out, ODA is one of many firms that pitched, and the design was ultimately turned down because it was out of touch with the direction of the neighborhood. Though it won’t come to fruition, it does give some scale of what’s to come—which will indeed be transformative for the area.
There’s a new rental available in up-and-coming Gowanus, and it’s asking $2,550 per month. This one-bedroom has a shared garden and laundry facilities along with a dizzying black-and-white checkered bathroom that will either make you fall in love or just get really disoriented. But even if that’s not your thing, charming original details like tin ceilings and wide-plank hardwood floors more than make up for it.
You’ve probably seen the murals of Cuban-American artist José Parlá in the lobbies of One World Trade Center and the Barclays Center. With such high-profile clients, it’s no wonder he worked with starchitecture firm Snøhetta, who completed the 9/11 Memorial Museum Pavilion, to create his personal artist’s studio.
Collaborating together, Parlá and Snøhetta transformed a Gowanus warehouse into a double-height workspace that retains industrial characteristics of the building like beamed ceilings, exposed piping and electrical fixtures, and concrete floors. To tailor the studio to their client’s needs, the firm re-opened old skylights to let natural light in to the middle of the work space, and they painted all the walls neutral grey tones so Parlá’s bright paintings really stand out.