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.
6sqft’s series “Where I Work” takes us into the studios, offices, and off-beat workspaces of New Yorkers across the city. In this installment, we take a tour of the Gowanus studio of Lite Brite Neon. Want to see your business featured here? 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.