A lot of times in this real-estate-crazy town you hear about a neighborhood, or even micro-neighborhood, that’s a sure-fire “next big thing.” New residential towers are coming, the hipsters say, along with new restaurants, new stores and services… everything about this unloved/undiscovered community’s about to explode. And then, often as not, nothing really happens, and everyone’s attention moves elsewhere. Which is definitely NOT the case for that most unlikely candidate for major development, Gowanus.
Despite its prime location, squeezed between two of Brooklyn’s most desireable areas, the brownstone communities of Carroll Gardens / Cobble Hill and Park Slope, most parts of Gowanus had for decades been basically declared unfit for human habitation, defined as they were by their notoriously polluted, namesake canal. But even in the face of this seemingly insurmountable obstacle–I mean, it’s a superfund site for crying out loud!–all signs indicate that Gowanus is indeed going to be Brooklyn’s next hot neighborhood. In fact, we’ve been watching the development of Gowanus for almost 2 years now.
Gowanus is Attracting Lots of Foodies, Befitting It’s Title of the Next Hot Brooklyn Neighborhood
The transformation of Gowanus from no-go zone of industrial blight to hipster-friendly–even family-friendly!–community began a couple of years ago, when Third Avenue unexpectedly became something of a restaurant row, led by the likes of Four and Twenty Blackbirds and Littleneck and joined more recently by such destination eateries as Fletcher’s Barbecue and The Pines. Yes, people travel from all over the city to eat one block away from the Gowanus Canal.
Coming soon, just to add to insanity: an outpost of the always-mobbed Dinosaur BBQ, and a 40,000 square-foot Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club. And then things will REALLY change in about a year when thousands of grocery shoppers converge on the massive Gowanus Whole Foods now rising right next to the canal (pictured above). Building a supermarket so close to the water seems a bit questionable after what happened to the Red Hook Fairway during Sandy, which recently reopened after four months of repairs and renovation, but Whole Foods seems undeterred, with construction moving full speed ahead.
The Next Hot Neighborhood in Brooklyn Needs Plenty of Housing, and Gowanus Will Have It
So who’s going to support all of these new and existing businesses?
Well, there are those well-heeled people who’ll be shelling out as much $8,500 a month to live in the nearly-finished, 51-unit luxury residential tower at 202 Eighth Street, pictured above. Yes, that’s correct, $8,500 a month to live in Gowanus. True, it has three bedrooms, two baths, and a terrace (and the building boasts a roof deck, among, presumably, other fantastic amenities), but even studio apartments here begin at nearly $2,500 a month. Remarkable.
And that’s just the very, very beginning! Last week the City Planning Commission approved plans by the Lighthouse Group to go ahead with the gigantic, 700-unit rental apartment complex on Bond Street along the Canal, pictured at top and below. Modifications and compromises were made, post-Sandy, including pulling the buildings away from the water’s edge, where there will now be a spacious public promenade (nice!); and the lowest apartment in the complex will sit at least 10.62 feet above the floodplain, as identified in the new FEMA maps; and all mechanical equipment will be located on higher floors, not in the basement.
Still, some people, including Councilman Brad Lander, are worried. “I continue to believe it is a mistake to move forward with dense, high-rise, residential development,” said Lander, “without a comprehensive plan for infrastructure and land use regulations that Gowanus needs.” Right now, however, the smart money’s on Gowanus: Brooklyn’s Next Hot Neighborhood.