It's a project nearly a decade in the making, the City Council Land Use Committee approved the controversial Gowanus rezoning plan Wednesday after years of negotiations.
"What's really made this rezoning possible to deliver on community goals is really extensive and diverse community organizing," said City Councilman Brad Lander.
The 80-block rezoning will bring some 8,000 new housing units to the neighborhood — 3,000 of which will be affordable apartments.
"It's great to create 3,000 new units that low and moderate income families will be able to live in, but you can't feel good about that if the 1,600 families living there today are living in appalling conditions," said Lander. He spearheaded this rezoning and worked closely with NYCHA tenants to secure meet their demands.
A few hours before that pivotal vote came down, City Council members reached a deal with NYCHA residents. As part of the plan, the city will dedicate $200 million to the two NYCHA developments: the Gowanus Houses and Wyckoff Gardens.
The Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition for Justice initially asked for $274 million, but that number was reduced after hours of negotiations Tuesday night.
Gowanus Houses Tenant Association Vice President Theresa Davis said she's pleased.
"It's less but I'm glad it's something because other developments are facing the same thing that we're facing and they're not getting the help they need."
That money will go towards repairing and improving conditions at all 1,662 apartments that fall within that rezoning area. It’s a major win for Councilman Brad Lander and for NYCHA residents, but Davis says she's going to continue to hold the city accountable.
"We're still gonna push on for the remainder of it. We're not backing down. I'm not backing down."
Opponents of the plan fear the rezoning would drive up apartment prices and lead to further gentrification in the area. That includes Martin Bisi who owns BC Studio in Gowanus.
“Everyone else is gonna be left with a much less affordable neighborhood because the rent has been going up partly because of speculation of the direction that this neighborhood is going in," said Bisi.
After the vote Bisi said he also has environmental concerns. The plan would bring 30,000 new residents into a FEMA flood zone.
“Once we’re talking about health, lives, environmental justice. You gotta take a stand at every point along the way.”
The full City Council is expected to vote on the proposal on November 23. Construction on the first private development could begin as soon as next year with construction on the first 100-percent affordable housing set to begin in 2023.