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Gowanus residents debate canal-side development

The community is having a hard time agreeing on how, once cleaned up, the area around the Gowanus Canal should be developed.

Development company the Lightstone Group recently began constructing what was a controversial project on Bond Street between Carroll and Second streets. The 700-unit, 12- story residential building is a done deal and many residents are frustrated that their efforts to stop it were unsuccessful. 

“It is very important that the city give some clear indication of its long-term plans for the area because property owners who are hoping for residential development are unwilling to commit to long term leases or sales,” Sean Neill, a co-owner of the Bell House performance venue said. “This would mean that places like the Bell House would not be able to survive.”

Community blogger Katia Kelly added, “Gowanus is prone to severe flooding as was witnessed during Hurricane Sandy. It seems ill-advised to build more housing in a floodplain that needs to be evacuated during heavy storms.”

However, a proposal that residents seem to be pleased about is the renovation of a long-derelict, graffiti covered structure built in 1902 as part of an MTA Power House on Third Avenue, dubbed the “Gowanus Bat Cave.” Philanthropist Joshua Rechnitz bought the structure and reportedly plans to convert it into an arts, education and performance space.


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