Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander Warns Real Estate Group to Halt Development Project Along Gowanus Canal
City Councilman Brad Lander let national realty firm, The Lightstone Group, in on a little secret yesterday: it's not a great time to build along waterfront neighborhoods in the city right now!
Lander sent a letter to Lightstone Group chairman and CEO David Lichtenstein urging the company to withdraw its bid to develop a 700-unit housing complex along the Gowanus canal on Bond street.
"Hurricane Sandy brought an unprecedented storm surge that inundated waterfront neighborhoods, caused billions of dollars in damage, and left tens of thousands of New Yorkers without electricity, heat, or safe shelter," Lander writes in the letter. "Within my district, many of those most impacted by the storm live and work near the Gowanus Canal, which overflowed its banks and flooded neighboring homes and businesses."
The damage inflicted upon the waterfront areas of Brooklyn by Hurricane Sandy has been well-documented -- as we reported in the aftermath of the storm. Lander noted that the site of the proposed project experienced considerable flooding.
Supporters of The Lightstone Group's proposed project argue that it could help revitalize the Gowanus area - especially considering that that Environmental Protection Agency designated the Gowanus Canal as a Superfund site. Superfund sites are highly polluted areas which the EPA has prioritized for clean-up.
Lander believes that newly emerging weather patterns have made it too dangerous to build such a project along the canal.
"I believe it would be a serious mistake for you to proceed as though nothing had happened, without reconsidering or altering your plans, and putting over 1,000 new residents in harm's way the next time an event of this magnitude occurs," Lander said.
The letter was more of a demand than a simple suggestion. He vowed to take action if the realty firm won't withdraw its application to build the units.
"If you agree to withdraw your application at this time, I will be glad to work with you in the future as we develop new plans for the area," Lander said. "If you choose not to reconsider in light of what we have learned from Hurricane Sandy, but instead push forward with your existing proposal unchanged, I will urge the City Planning Commission to reject your application."
Lander didn't specify the exact kind of development he'd like the group to pursue in lieu of the intended project, but he did welcome Lightstone to work with himself, other public officials and the Gowanus community to plan more responsible development.
The head of the proposed project wasn't immediately available for comment but is expected to release a statement to the Voice later today. Check back for more updates.
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