Gowanus a target of mini-land run
55 Properties Trade Since January 2011
The opening of Whole Foods at 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street on Dec. 17 has put Gowanus in the spotlight, but its arrival is only one important part of a larger transformation underway.
In recent years, Gowanus has been the target of a mini-land run and every day it seems additional projects and sales are being announced.
Since the beginning of 2011, 55 properties valued at nearly $260 million have traded in the area. Through October of this year alone, 27 properties valued at more than $130 million were sold, which, when compared to six sales valued at more than $65 million in 2011, is a 350 percent increase in property sales and a 100 percent increase in the value of those trades. While a couple of the sales were for new multifamily buildings on Fourth Avenue, others were for vacant lots or under-used sites that will be transformed into residential buildings, hotels, office and retail stores, or rehabbed facilities for artists and recreation.
This flurry of activity has made stakeholders in Gowanus nervous and to ensure that locals have a say in the future of the neighborhood, City Councilman Brad Lander and other elected officials invited the community to the first in a series of public meetings designed “to develop a comprehensive plan for the infrastructure and land use regulations needed for a safe, vibrant, and sustainable Gowanus.”
Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez spoke at the initial Dec. 9 community meeting, comparing the process in Gowanus to the community meetings that were held surrounding the development of Brooklyn Bridge Park. She acknowledged that while that process was lengthy and at times heated, all the opinions were heard and the result was a compromise that everyone could live with.
Representatives from the Pratt Center for Community Development facilitated the evening and solicited input about seven shared values for Gowanus from more than 200 local residents and property owners that met in the gymnasium of The Children’s School on Carroll Street.
The shared values include infrastructure improvements and more community centers, schools, and parks; maintaining a mix of housing, commercial and retail businesses, arts spaces, and manufacturing; preserving and creating affordable housing; using the canal as a publicly accessible body of water; maintaining and expanding local businesses; and preserving iconic buildings.
In the coming weeks, stakeholders will break up into smaller working groups to specifically address environmental, social and cultural, mixed-use, and affordable housing issues. The participants will reconvene as a larger group in February.
A website devoted to these efforts, Bridginggowanus.org, features information about the process and an archive of reports and plans about the Gowanus dating back to 2006, including the EPA’s decision to name the Gowanus Canal a Superfund in 2010 and a draft re-zoning proposal from 2008, which was never presented to local officials for a vote.
Major new development in Gowanus can be traced to 2004 when Lowe’s opened at 118 2nd Avenue, between 10th and 11th Streets, and the 110-room Holiday Inn Express at 625 Union Street kicked off the area’s hotel boom the following year. Since then, more than a half a dozen hotels have opened and more are in the planning stages.
Hudson Companies was a pioneer in residential development, breaking ground on Third + Bond, a 44-unit condominium development at the corner of Third and Bond Streets, in 2007, and in 2008 a 1920s warehouse at 149 7th Street was converted into a performance space called The Bell House. Restaurants, including the national chain Dinosaur Bar-B-Que which opened this year at 604 Union Street, also have been flocking to the area.
The financial crisis brought development to a halt, but in the last two years market activity has picked up. The following is a partial list of projects planned for Gowanus and a few of the significant property trades from 2012-13:
The Lightstone Group has begun work on the site of a 12-story, 700-unit rental complex with commercial space and a community facility at 400 Carroll Street, 363-365 Bond Street on the banks of the Gowanus Canal. The developer bought the three lots last summer for more than $33 million.
Sterling Equities Inc. bought a property at 337 Carroll Street for $12.5 million in May 2013. The developer filed an application with the city to build a four-story, 53,475-square-foot residential building with 32 units and 27 parking spaces.
Plans have been filed with the city for façade restoration for a 77,000-square-foot building at 322 3rd Street, which is reportedly being converted into a space for artists. BRT Powerhouse bought the property last year for $7 million.
Hotel developer Alec Shtromandel has filed plans with the city to build an 18,904-square-foot hotel on a parking lot at 645-651 Union Street, across from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and on the same block as the Holiday Inn Express. The developer purchased the property last year for more than $2.5 million.
A request for a certificate of occupancy for an indoor tennis center has been filed for 524-532 Baltic Street, between Third Avenue and Nevins Street.
Developer LIVWRK recently bought 68 and 80 Third Street and announced plans to convert the first two floors of the 80,000-square-foot property into retail hub for local and national stores. The remaining space would house offices. The developer also is in contract to buy 130 Third Street at the corner of Bond Street.
An investor bought a portfolio totaling 60,000 square feet at 519-529 3rd Avenue and 157-163 13th Street in August for $7.3 million, reportedly for office and retail use.
An industrial property at 300 Nevins Street traded last year for $14 million.
A hotel at 533-537 3rd Avenue sold last year for$9.95 million.
An office building at 168 7th Street sold in July for $15.3 million.
A development site at 140 3rd Street and 421 Bond Street traded in June for $5.5 million.
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