After much backlash from New York City Councilmember Brad Lander and several community members in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Lightstone Group has decided to abandon its proposed “minor modification” in favor of keeping the as-of-right design for its Gowanus Canal-side development that is in compliance with the rezoning passed in 2009.
Today the New York City Department of City Planning gave Lightstone the greenlight to move ahead with its 700-unit residential development on the Gowanus. The “Minor Modification” would have used a waiver to extend the depth in the rear yard. And while the design initially won the community board’s support, the damage and flooding from Hurricane Sandy in the area generated concern and protest among some residents.
According to a statement released by Lightstone today, the design approved is “very similar to the Minor Modification design,” which includes the identical massing along Bond Street and along portions of First and Second Streets, the same floor area and uses of retail and residential space, and the same number of units and affordable apartments. But Lightstone did manage to deviate from the original design by Toll Brothers, the previous developer, by “gently stepping up” the building heights toward the canal and adding 2,955 square feet of open space to accommodate an expanded public walkway along the canal and pull the buildings away from the waterfront.
The developers will also adhere to new FEMA maps and implement the required changes to protect the building from flooding such as raising the lowest occupied floors and moving all mechanical equipment to above grade.
The blog Pardon Me For Asking reported that even though the Minor Modification is off the table, Brad Lander is not budging on his position. “In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, I continue to believe it is a mistake to move forward with dense, high-rise, residential development without a comprehensive plan for infrastructure and land use regulations that Gowanus needs,” said Lander.