Mapping Gowanus: Degraw between Bond and the Canal

IT CAME FROM GOWANUS

Fay Ku and Mick Rossi

The title came from the graffiti across the beautiful canal.
This was the sole inhabitant on that block.
Although the tenant could have been a bird, I [Fay] was very excited to imagine a Gowanus bat being one of the last stalwarts holding out against gentrification!

And without further to-do, voilà:

Mapping Gowanus: 2nd ave. between 5th st. and 4th st.

Concrete Thoughts

 Brad Vogel
6.12-6.15, 2019
 Fiery triceratops skulls know winter is coming
By bulky bureaucratic beige-tastic blandity
 
Rope-bridged between these
            I sway
Asphalt planks
Cables twined of mugwort
Seaside goldenrod
      Parole officers pa
                  troll below
 
Permanently bathed in red light
I don’t need sign blare emphatic
To tell me
Through growl-whir chants
Of each turnaround car
Stalked by black and white orbs of the state
            This is the END
 
Here on 2nd
Between 5th and 4th
Though there is no 4th
Only a Basin to guide me
And it took just a second or three
Amidst milkweed bothered bottles
To figure out if this was all a ruse
 
This feral pocket where our CSOs
Avalanche when gods weep uncontrollably
Human waste heading for herons
And hoping for the filtrations
Of ribbed mussels
 
This rife patch where old Belgian block
Collapses, Knieveling out over the brink
Facing down a hangry Gowanus
And slowly losing the encounter
Bulkheads still blowing out
As if the made land’s
Belt could not handle
All these meals of carcinogens
With time for dessert
 
Here, rope-bridged, I sit
Slung, musing
Caught between creek-side tulip tree
Mùxulhemënshi
Giver of Lenape canoes
And concrete blocks
The Sleeper’s toys
Where I first joined the Dredgers
In exile, as Gary paddle-boarded by
Red, toxic-bottomed canoes
Locked by a box that advised
CHILLAX
 
On a rope bridge anchored
By a sinking, musket-sparing
Marylander hand
Disappearing into muck
Redcoat shot pelting the calamus
As Washington weeps on the hill
And a billionaire mother trying to escape
Through great hollow flooding garages
Come down from the 35th floor
Her children wailing
In thrice-rezoned future
As hurricane surge breaches
The great mouth gate
One final time
 
- Here I muse at the cast
Sewer cover constellations
And know at last
What the sign means
 
I lay rope-bridged
Looking for the few stars
And LaGuardia-bound
Meteors through
Gas-drip willow leaves
In a trick garden
Native but not native
Chemicals creeping up
With full aroma
Here between my
Ankle-bracelet fitting
And the incessant beeping
Of my 1st or 3rd
Midnight salt pickup
Between the dredger
Lifejacketed on his barge
And the secretary
Whose shawl remains
In fluorescent rain
Black through the windows
High overhead
Here between full-leafed
Trees of heaven and
Their dying branches
Between chained S.S. Oops
And sad coffee break benches
Between sleeping buses
Tourist red and Orthodox yellow
And a glacial outwash plain
Between tugboats bulling
Between belabored barges
And a kid on his bike
With a camera
And nothing better to do
Egret-rouser
Gosling-noticer
Laugher-at-fences
Hearer-of-ever-rushing-waters-somewhere-deep-below
Absorber-of-cyan-glow-of-great-towering-future-tide-clock
Between heavy June twilight
And the hard all-sumac rise
Of a February dawn
 
 
All these rope bridges
I cross at once, at risk
Intersect in me
Radiate out from me
Undulates of some strange, time-spanning
Extremophile tide
Rays working out slowly
From some dark Gowanus sun
 
I hold these rusted green railings
And walk across
In all directions

Mapping Gowanus: 3rd Avenue, between Sackett and Douglass

(Good-by to all that)

By SJ Avery

I thought this exercise would be a break from obsessing about the Gowanus rezoning – it wasn’t. I find it hard to walk through Gowanus without checking the proposed rezoning plan maps and mentally saying good-by to so many buildings and streetscapes.     

The here and now: Looking north on 3rd Avenue from Sackett to Degraw. (Hard to beat Google maps for panoramic views.) Not a particularly “pretty” street – there’s a big lot for car sales and an auto repair shop on the west side and a large construction business that takes up the whole block on the east side.

On the other hand, the south-facing view from Degraw hits you right away with “commercial.”  I like the bright colors of both buildings and signs on the west side of this block.  

The east side of the street is a whole different story. A monolithic building, in an almost colonial brick style, hogs the block and is home to A. William Construction, “Celebrating 30 Years of Service”. The architecture vaguely reminds me of a two story funeral home, but it looks solid and sturdy (probably good for business). 

The block begins at Sackett with a garage type structure with “KEISAL” mysteriously embossed on the first garage-like building, but there’s no hint of what that refers to. There is a courtyard type space where some heavy equipment is stored and then the faux colonial building.

So, what makes this block interesting?  — well, it’s all going to change – in fact, disappear as we know it – with the proposed Gowanus rezoning.

Trying to be lyrical about this block sticks in my throat. I know what’s up. Love the idea of more affordable housing, but affordable for who?  Hate the idea of more crap (literally) in the Canal and watching this funky ugly duckling turning into a fit-for-Dubai swan. Visions of developers looking like Monopoly bankers swim in my brain.

The future:

City Planning has marked most of this block (highlighted) as a projected development site in their rezoning plan – which means that they see a likelihood of a someone buying the property and putting a new building on it within a 15-year period. On this block, that which isn’t “projected” is “potential,” or less likely to be developed, but still possible.

And what will this new block look like?  According to the proposed zoning map, the block (highlighted) will be at M1-4 R7X (in zoning speak) which means they would have a maximum height of 145 feet, which translates into about 13 stories. Uses could be residential with ground floor commercial, community facility, or commercial/manufacturing.  It will all be up to “THE MARKET.”  (She sighs deeply and thinks of Monopoly bankers.)