As Rezoning Looms, Gowanus Locals Renew Push to Landmark Area, Reveal List of Key Sites

Gowanus Canal. Photo by Susan De Vries

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Is there a way to save the historic character of Gowanus before the neighborhood is rezoned?

That was the question asked by a group of locals who gathered Tuesday morning near the Union Street Bridge Control Tower.

A coalition of local and city-wide groups — Historic Districts Council, Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus (FROGG), Park Slope Civic Council, Old Stone House, and Carroll Gardens Coalition for Respectful Development — as well as local residents are renewing a call for landmarking the area. They handed out a list of proposed sites in Gowanus for individual, scenic and historic district designation.

“Our concern is that a firestorm of rezoning is coming,” said Simeon Bankoff of the Historic Districts Council.

The coalition’s plan, they said, is to present their proposed designation list to the LPC once a new chair has been appointed. (LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan announced her resignation in April; her last day will be June 1).

gowanus landmarking preservation

Photo by Craig Hubert

“If the city doesn’t act before the rezoning to preserve some of these older structures, there won’t be anything left,” Bankoff added.

The group is also hoping to get city council members — Brad Lander, Stephen Levin and Carlos Menchaca all represent parts of Gowanus — more involved in their efforts.

“It’s a long list, and we don’t anticipate that every single one of these will be landmarked,” said resident Brad Vogel. “But we do think more than a mere two or three buildings need to be landmarked in conjunction with the rezoning.”

gowanus landmarking preservation

Photo by Craig Hubert

For individual designation, these sites include the Gowanus Station at 234 Butler Street, which the DEP currently has plans to partially demolish, the American Can Factory at 232 3rd Street and the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Powerhouse at 322 3rd Avenue, better known as the Batcave.

The Belgian block street-ends abutting the Gowanus Canal are being proposed as a scenic landmark.

Three areas proposed for historic district designation are an industrial district at the head of the canal, the two-story row houses on 2nd Street and the 12th Street row houses between 3rd and 4th Avenues. (None of the proposed districts have been named.)

gowanus landmarking preservation

Photo by Craig Hubert

In 2014, the New York State Preservation Office decided not to move forward with a plan to designate the Gowanus Canal area as a state and national historic district. The designation, which had been in the works for about a decade, was shelved after the state received a substantial number of notarized letters from property owners objecting to it.

“Word on the street is that the rezoning is right on the horizon, and we have heard nothing from any city agency about how this is moving forward,” said Kelly Carroll, Director of Advocacy and Community Outreach for the Historic Districts Council. “There’s a community here that wants landmarking and has wanted it for a long time.”

brooklyn development gowanus batcave

The Brooklyn Rapid Transit Powerhouse, aka Batcave. Photo by Susan De Vries

A full list of proposed sites in Gowanus for NYC Landmark Designation can be found below:

Proposed for individual designation:
Gowanus Flushing Tunnel Pumping House, 209 Douglass Street
ASPCA Memorial Building and horse trough, 233 Butler Street
Gowanus Station, 234 Butler Street
R.G. Dun and Company Building, 239-57 Butler Street/206 Nevins Street
Scranton and Lehigh Coal Company, 233 Nevins Street/236 Butler Street
American Can Factory, 232 3rd Street
Brooklyn Rapid Transit Powerhouse, 322 3rd Avenue
S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse, 595-611 Smith Street
Union Street Bridge Control Tower
Eureka Garage, 638-44 Degraw Street
Lavender Lake, 383 Carroll Street
National Packing Box Company, 543 Union Street
Norge Sailmakers Building, 170 2nd Avenue
The News Brooklyn Garage, 209-215 3rd Avenue
T.H. Roulston, Inc. buildings, 70-124 9th Street
Culver Viaduct, 9th Street over Gowanus Canal
William H. Mobray Building, 400-04 3rd Avenue
4th Street Brewery and Icehouse Complex, 401-421 Bond Street
The Green Building, 450-460 Union Street
St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church, 419 Sackett Street
Our Lady of Peace Roman Catholic Church Complex, 522 Carroll Street
505 Carroll Street
Warehouse with decorative pavings, 129-131 8th Street
Tile Works Building, 130 3rd Street
Planet Mills, 376 President Street
Industrial Complex, 530-550 President Street
Flats building, 57 3rd Street
Residence, 388 Hoyt Street
Remnant Shanty, 101 4th Street

Proposed for scenic landmark designation:
Belgian Block street-ends abutting Gowanus Canal

Proposed for historic district designation:
A head-of-canal district comprised of the first five individual sites on this list
2nd Street two-story row houses, Carroll Gardens side of the Gowanus Canal
12th Street row houses, north side, between 3rd and 4th avenues

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