Category Archives: Neighborhood News

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.)

Want to share your views on Gowanus?

Tired of no one listening to you opine about the changes going on in the neighborhood? Here’s a chance to be heard.

This weekend, my husband and I met filmmakers Jamie Courville and Chris Reynolds hanging out on the Carroll St. Bridge.  We got to talking and they told us about their documentary Gowanus Current,which is following the changes taking place in the neighborhood.

They are incorporating audio testimonials in the film and are eager for folks to call their hotline and leave their thoughts on Gowanus – anonymously, or not.

Check out their Facebook page for news from the neighborhood and updates on their film.

Here’s a reminder of how fast things are changing: Two Before/After shots they have collected for their project. By my recollection these were taken just a couple of months apart.