A Look at What Toll Bros. Wants to Redevelop

Here’s a look at the blocks in Gowanus that Toll Brothers is interested in completely redeveloping. Toll’s 605,380-square-foot development would run from the canal to Bond Street between Carroll and 2nd streets. As the photos show, most of the area in question ain’t all that pretty, but members of the community have started expressing deep reservations about Toll’s plans. Gowanus Lounge, which broke the news of Toll’s plans, has been covering the growing opposition to the development. Among the questions being asked: 1. Why should Toll Brothers get a jump on the larger rezoning of Gowanus? 2. Hey, isn’t this development in a flood plain? 3. How will Toll clean up festering toxic soil?
Toll Brothers’ Gargantuan Gowanus Plans Revealed [Brownstoner] GMAP
New “Movement” Developing in Gowanus & Carroll Gardens? [GL]

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  • I can’t wait for the brokers signing in as “guest” to tout the area’s “charm”.

    Barf.

  • This is a shame. This the place for the YARD a performance space which we so thoroughly enjoyed this summer — listening to bands, dancing, barbequing against the bizzare industrial backdrop. Now it Toll Brothers :( why dont they stick with MacMansions in the suburbs…

  • I see this becoming the “Venice” of the North East.

    very desirable

  • Listen, how can any reasonable person view the development of this area as negative? Yes, Toll Brothers may construct cheesy McMansions in the suburbs, but when you’re dealing with an area that needs extensive rezoning and rehabilitation issues, only large scale developers will have the competency and resources to complete such a project. So yes, it is a catch 22, but I rather have the catch 22 than this steaming pile of garbage and pollution.

  • Sigh. This is getting tiresome. Toll Brothers isn’t paying for the clean up – we all are.

    The main is issue the toxic canal sewer. Who really thinks that is going to be cleaned up?

    Now let’s start the arguments. Those opposed are bitter renters who will never afford anything and will be forced out of the hood or those opposed are property owners who fear the supply of additional housing will lower their property values.

    If the canal clean up does get underway I don’t want to be anywhere that especially if dredging is involved. I would go and hang for a few years on that other coast until it is over.

  • But why can’t we have both 9:55? Luxury condos and “steaming pile of garbage”? It does seem that only someone with very deep pockets will be able to clean up this mess. Will they separate the storm sewers from the sewage lines? How will all the additions buildings along 4th Ave. including the AY development contribute to the mess. What will happen to the heating oil and concrete facilities?

  • Members of community with reservations are members that oppose almost everything.
    At the front of the line are Gowanus Lounge – which loves all industrial grit, graffiti and discarded sofas on sidewalks – and PardonMe who is against anything more than 50′ tall within 6 miles of her house.
    Do you think owners of this land should never be able to redevelop the property – and have to keep it as industrial wasteland to serve your small interests?

  • Love Canal with condos.

  • Hope it all works. Housing is needed. As long as they keep it clean. Why is everyone always against big developers and change. It’ll create a lot of construction jobs as building is slowing down in the rest of New York and it will provide additional affordable housing in a nice, safe area.

  • I hope the DOE will refuse to grant variances for children residing in that development so that it will be either private or PS 32 which could only improve PS 32.

  • There are some of us who are neither bitter renters (significant ownership wthin a mile of this) nor against all development. 25 years ago I looked at this area and wished I could develop it. If there were true capitalism at work here — fine. However, too often, developers get the go ahead from city/state without planning for infrastructure. Then taxpayers get holding the bag to clean up so the developers can make their money. Our sewage system, schools, transit are already over capacity. And none of the developments that have already started have done anything to mitgate any of these problems — only added to them. AY, this — are all more of the same.

  • RE: Cleaning up toxic soil:

    http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=1397&language=1

    That silo building in the background of the first picture is a little design house, its generous tenants offered up their wide riverside expanse to an event late last summer. Shame to see that area be soaked up by more godaweful Toll Brothers uninspired shitboxes.

  • Yep, it’s pretty clear from the photos why development is unacceptable. It’s the awe-inspiring beauty of industrial decay, and soon artists will have to go to jamaica and east new york to find surroundings so (chic) ugly. If only toll bros could find some internationally respected architect to, wait, no, that doesn’t work either. Guess nobody gets to be happy anymore.

  • I agree with the poster at 9:55. How anyone could object to the development of this property is really beyond me. With the exception of the nice outdoors Yard area and silo, there is nothing here! A couple of years ago folks were crying about an ugly, one-story grey painted brick and block warehouse that is on the site, proposing that it should be landmarked. Unbelievable.

    The neighborhood has been clamoring for 30, 40, 50 years for the cleanup of the canal and the surrounding area. Nothing has happened. Nothing. A poster above mentioned that it is the taxpayer who will be left holding the bag on the cost of cleanup. I say so what. Who else is going to pay for it? In my view, it’s the individual polluters (when that can be determined) and the government’s shared responsibility. But in the end, if Toll wants help from the government to clean up, and is going to play hardball and not do anything otherwise, then let’s give it to them. Honestly. Let’s get the area cleaned up, even if we have to pay for it. Is it really preferable to let it sit another 50 years as the toxins come into our homes through seeping groundwater? What alternatives do we have?

    The bottom line is that this and other developments will force the issue. With money involved, the game will change. (The way of the world.) I don’t believe anyone will live in their buildings if the canal is not improved, and so I don’t believe Toll will build without improvement. Let’s see what happens. What have we got to loose? A few parking spaces? Please.

  • If you want “happy” you should move to LA.

  • In my post above, that should be: “What have we got to lose?”

    Sorry.

  • As someone who lives near / in the “steaming pile of garbage and pollution” I have to say there are things that would definitely be lost with this development. There is a small but vibrant old-world Italian community flourishing right off the canal, whose only grocery store closed down a year ago because of rising costs. There are also a large number of artists living in this tiny area, who depend on the low rents to let them make a living.

    While I think all of us would love to see a clean, revitalized Gowanus Canal, we never will, because we’ll be part of what gets “cleaned up.” So I’m sorry if it is an eyesore to people who don’t live there, but to some of us, it’s our neighborhood.

  • It’s not correct to cast this as a neighborhood against vs. non-Gowanus folks for argument. I’m in the neighborhood, get the Gowanus Canal in my cellar during storms, and I am for this development.

    The housing is cheap here because it’s polluted. Is it fair to force someone out of their home so that a 200 year pollution problem could begin to be solved? I don’t know. I don’t live in the footprint, but I cannot say I would feel good about standing in the way of public health improvements a lot of people have been wanting for a very, very long time.

    (I don’t mean to conflate Toll Brothers with the ultimate cleanup of the canal. It doesn’t stand or fall with their project. But my hope that it will be a catalyst is strong.)

  • so lets get to the actual issue at hand becuase the cleaning of the canal is not the driving force here (many of the people saying that it is already canoe every weekend in the canal and allow their family members to have secondary contact with the water).

    The real issue is that this is an urban oasis. Yes it smells, yes it is a bit dirty, yes it is a great place to get a hooker duriong certain hours, but this is what keeps everyone away enough for the artists, locals, and other cool people to enjoy it without being kicked out or infringed upon by any annoying yuppy freaks (even though everyone on this blog is probably considered a yuppy by someone somewhere).

    This is that cool bar that all of a sudden gets good lighting and a hot bartender. All of a sudden it is no longer my private hangout.

    I love the canal and am also afraid of change. I like this design. I think that we will see much worse designs coming down the pike (I think we have already seen worse designs).

    I think that everyone shoudl use this design as a minimum standard and will probably use this example to show future developers who come with buildings that will have a 25 year shelf life (like the ones on 4th avenue).

    And in case anyone hasn’t figured it out yet – they are not cleaning the canal, dredging the canal, fixing the CSO issues unless the development is actaully coming. They fix the problems they have to and right now too many people like this place the way it is and have blocked all development and maintaining the industrial wasteland that it is. As long as it is kept this way people shoudl not expect much change.

  • I’d hate for that area to become gentrified. I buy my heroin down there. Now will I have to go back to the Bronx like the old days?

  • “…the “Venice” of the North East…”

    That would be hot. Until next building boom…

  • Preview Your Comment

    I am pro development, I am pro AY. I favor higer density near mass transit and center city. BUT I think that the city/state is making a mistake in trying to rezone and clean up the Gowanus for RESIDENTIAL development.

    It is simply a waste of time and money to try to clean this area adequately for high density residential. Look at all the problems Whole Foods is having and that isnt even a residential development.

    The real fallacy here is that the land is only valuable for residential. It isnt, there is a thriving industrial/business community in this area and in fact these community would invest and expand in the area if the threat of residential development was removed (why invest when the possibility exists for conversion to a more valuable residential developer).

    The city should determine which parcels (if any) are conducive for quick and cheap conversion to residential (ie.e not on the canal itself and on thru streets to “join” the neighborhoods) do a limited rezoning (if possible) and then forever (or until the next election) protect the bulk of the land for industry.

    The concrete plant is a perfect example – it serves a VITAL need for fresh concrete in Manhattan, its loss will cost everyone a fortune (in increased construction costs and $ for a new nearby plant) and at the end of the day the billions spent trying o clean this sewer could be used in more efficient ways.

  • I am pro development, I am pro AY. I favor higer density near mass transit and center city. BUT I think that the city/state is making a mistake in trying to rezone and clean up the Gowanus for RESIDENTIAL development.

    It is simply a waste of time and money to try to clean this area adequately for high density residential. Look at all the problems Whole Foods is having and that isnt even a residential development.

    The real fallacy here is that the land is only valuable for residential. It isnt, there is a thriving industrial/business community in this area and in fact these community would invest and expand in the area if the threat of residential development was removed (why invest when the possibility exists for conversion to a more valuable residential developer).

    The city should determine which parcels (if any) are conducive for quick and cheap conversion to residential (ie.e not on the canal itself and on thru streets to “join” the neighborhoods) do a limited rezoning (if possible) and then forever (or until the next election) protect the bulk of the land for industry.

    The concrete plant is a perfect example – it serves a VITAL need for fresh concrete in Manhattan, its loss will cost everyone a fortune (in increased construction costs and $ for a new nearby plant) and at the end of the day the billions spent trying o clean this sewer could be used in more efficient ways.

  • Oh please 12:25 – I live in right up the block from here and I can assure you there are no prostitutes. It is so far from being some bohemiam hot spot – there are mostly yuppies who work successfully in the arts and old time italians – and a retirement home. This spot on the gowanus is ugly – and has great dance parties in the summer – but the area is hardly gritty in the old NYC sense of the word.

    In any case, this area is so far gone down yuppy road, it might as well go all the way. And what heaven to have a nice, albeit small, park are on the water front. NYC is just horrible at taking advantage of water front property. Ideally Gowanus would be cleaned up and we would have bars and cafes all along it (fat chance) but decent housing with a little public park space is better than nothing.

  • ACTUAL IDEA THAT COULD WORK FOR EVERYONE

    Now to an actual thing you could push for…..how about you require all who convert to a residential zoning (either through a complete rezoning or an individual action like Toll Brothers) to build 100% affordable houseing. The land valu ewill still go up for the existing owners. Just not to the insane levels if you could just do market rate. The only people who get hurt here are the developers who gambled for a different outcome and you do not change the zoning based on gambling.

  • Why waste billions to clean up an area for affordable housing when the money could develop far more affordable housing elsewhere?

  • Let’s just build a giant Ronald McDonald House. It solves the housing and cancer problems.

  • LETS BUILD A POWER SUB STATION FACILITY AT THE PUBLIC PLACE SITE AND WATER TREATMENT FACILITY AT THE HEAD OF THE CANAL.

    LETS KEEP IT AS INDUSTRIAL AS POSSIBLE.

    LETS LET IT SERVE THE REST OF THE COMMUNITY THE WAY IT SHOULD.

  • 2:34 – best idea I’ve heard.

  • For a second there, I thought 2:34 was suggesting we build a nuclear-powered submnarine station. Now, that would be something!

  • Does anyone know what is this round building visible on the background? Looks unusual.

  • submarine entrance….
    ssshhhh don’t tell anyone

  • 2:56 – As referenced above, its a really cool performance space. I went to a show there last summer, they had mics rigged up in the ceiling and all around you – very cool.

  • 4:59: CIA listening post?
    Spying on the lefties, again. Good.