Council OKs housing project along Gowanus Canal

Aerial view of Toll Brothers’ proposed development. Image:GreenbergFarrow.

Council approves waterfront project despite community’s concerns about affordable housing component. On March 11, 2009, the City Council approved Toll Brothers’ proposed development at 363-365 Bond Street in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. The 525,309-sq.ft. development will provide 447 residential units, including 130 affordable units. The project, located on two blocks along the Gowanus Canal, bounded by Carroll, Second, and Bond Streets, includes two five-story buildings, a series of four-story townhouses, and two 12- story buildings fronting the canal. 6 CityLand 4 (Feb. 15, 2009).

At Council’s March 4th Zoning & Franchises Subcommittee hearing, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz called on Toll Brothers to reduce the 12-story buildings to eight stories, so that views from the Carroll Gardens Historic District would remain unobstructed. Markowitz also requested that Toll enter into a legally enforceable commitment to provide the project’s affordable housing component. A representative from Brooklyn Community Board 6 testified that although CB6 conditionally voted to approve the project, it was concerned that the developer had not guaranteed that affordable housing would be built. If the developer could not guarantee affordable housing, CB6 believed the project should be denied.

Council Member Bill de Blasio, whose district includes Carroll Gardens, supported the project, stating that the project’s height and density was an appropriate way to increase the availability of affordable housing in the neighborhood. He believed that Toll’s commitment to building the affordable housing was “real” and that the number of units was substantial.

Subcommittee Chair Tony Avella questioned the developer as to why the project’s height could not be reduced, to which a Toll representative responded that reducing the height to eight stories would lead to an unattractive monolithic form and prevent the construction of the townhouses. Avella also asked what assurances Toll could give that the affordable housing would be built. The representative stated that Toll remained committed to obtaining the subsidies needed to provide the affordable housing because the FAR bonus necessary to build the project as proposed was contingent on providing affordable units. Avella recessed the hearing so that Toll could come back and provide more information on several items, including the community’s concerns over affordable housing.

When the Subcommittee reconvened on March 9th, Toll’s representatives provided additional details of the affordable housing component. Avella said that he appreciated the testimony, but remarked that it did not “get to the heart of the matter,” which was whether Toll was willing to use a deed restriction, or some other written agreement, establishing a firm commitment to provide the affordable housing. Toll’s representatives reiterated Toll’s commitment to obtaining the subsidies necessary to provide the affordable housing so that the project, as proposed, could be built.

The hearing was closed, and Council Member Melinda R. Katz recommended the project’s approval. The project was approved, with only Avella voting no. The Land Use Committee approved the project, and the full Council followed suit.

Review Process
Lead Agency: CPC, FEIS
Comm.Bd.: BK 6,App’d, 23-10-5
Boro.Pres.: App’d
CPC: App’d, 12-0-0
Council: App’d, 45-1-3

Council: 363-365 Bond Street (C 090047 ZMK – rezoning); (C 090048 ZSK – spec. perm.); (N 090049 ZRK – text amend.) (March 11, 2009).

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