A Brooklyn Supreme Court judge allowed City Hall to move ahead Monday with controversial plans to build thousands of apartments near the Gowanus Canal, the site of one of the biggest pollution cleanups in the country.
Judge Katherine Levine made the ruling after the Department of City Planning offered to hold hearings for the proposal outside and virtually — instead of entirely by video conference, as officials had previously sought.
City planners have been pushing to rezone Gowanus since the Bloomberg administration — arguing the area would be far better served by building housing amid the city’s pressing shortage than by hanging onto warehouses, which have had little use since heavy industry moved out of the Big Apple.
Under the current proposal, developers would be allowed to build more than 8,500 apartments in the neighborhood — 3,000 of which would be rent-stabilized and set aside for low-income, working-class and middle-class families.
The exact income levels have not yet been determined. Officials estimate it could take until 2035 for all of the newly allowed buildings to be finished.
“The Gowanus plan is an antidote to the status quo—a status quo that has long put wealthy, amenity-rich neighborhoods under glass and out of reach for too many New Yorkers,” said City Planning chief Marisa Lagos in remarks after the judge’s ruling came down.
City Hall still must finalize and get the judge’s approval for its plans to hold the outdoor hearings.
Some local groups have fought for years to block the plan, claiming that the current clean-up plans for the canal are insufficient, that the new development will encourage gentrification and had sued to block the rezoning over the lack of in-person hearings.
They were critical of the judge’s terse three paragraph ruling.
“Justice Levine’s order today is provisional. Importantly, it does not reflect a ruling on the actual merits of the case,” said one of the organizations, the Voice of Gowanus, which promised to “review the full range of legal options.”