Gowanus Neighborhood Planning Study

Gowanus Neighborhood Planning Study

Thank you to those who were able to join the Gowanus Study’s Community Resources Meeting: Schools, Transportation, and More on October 19, 2017 at M.S. 51. The event was an open house where participants were able to speak with representatives of DCP, Department of Transportation, Department of Education, School Construction Authority, Department of Environmental Protection, and Human Resources Administration’s Tenant Support Unit, about the Gowanus Study and planning for transportation, public schools, infrastructure and other local needs. The event’s format and goals are described in the PDF Document welcome hand-out. Electronic copies of the boards shared by each agency are available here:

The feedback and ideas provided, including key planning principles discussed for schools and transportation, are provided in the PDF Document meeting recap.

During the winter and spring of 2017, Working Groups comprised of residents, businesses, elected officials’ representatives, community stakeholders and City agencies met to address topics around Arts & Culture, Housing, Industry & Economic Development, Public Realm, and Sustainability & Resiliency in Gowanus. The Working Groups, which met over 25 times and 80+ hours, were informed by a new online platform where data briefs and presentations were posted and shared. The site also posed questions through interactive mapping activities to the broader Gowanus community.

Working Groups: Process

Each working group produced draft recommendations to help shape a forthcoming draft planning and land use framework. Recommendations ranged in specificity from broad goals, objectives and priorities to specific mechanisms and tools (view PDF Document study process and outreach approach).

Working Group Summit

On July 11, 2017, a Working Group Summit was held where members of all Working Groups shared, discussed and prioritized each groups’ draft recommendations. At the Summit, DCP shared a PDF Document progress update of the Working Groups and other Gowanus Study outreach to date. In small group discussions, attendees evaluated synergies and potential conflicts among the diverse interests present in Gowanus.

Working Groups: Draft Recommendations

The Working Groups’ discussion at the Summit covered the three types of recommendations:

  • recommendations that were mutually supported by Working Group members and City agencies (view PDF Document the list);
  • recommendations that were generally supported but require additional information and/or research (view PDF Document the list); and
  • recommendations that, although the underlying goals were supported broadly, their implementation mechanisms were beyond the scope or ability of this neighborhood planning study for feasibility, legal or policy purposes and/or were not mutually supported by the Working Group members (view PDF Document the list).

Along with input from, large public meetings and other outreach, these recommendations will help in the development of a draft planning and land use framework and neighborhood plan by giving specific, topic-by-topic voice to items to be balanced and addressed. Discussions will continue on how to best achieve the overall vision for Gowanus and reconcile, where possible, conflicting or competing issues.  

Click on each link below to see sketches and visualizations of the Working Group recommendations!

Thank you to all who came out and participated at our workshop on March 25, 2017! Over 100 attendees shared their ideas on locations of uses, activities and improvements related to industry and jobs, housing, public realm, sustainability, resiliency, arts and culture and more. Each table sought to balance the various neighborhood goals in two activities that delved into use compatibility, mixed-use constraints, neighborhood assets and needs and key urban design challenges.

Feedback and results from each table’s activities are documented in the PDF Document workshop summary. The results of the workshop will help inform the Study's ongoing community engagement in future public events, smaller forums and working groups, and targeted stakeholder meetings.

Community Engagement Platform
We are also excited to announce a new way to interact and provide feedback on the neighborhood study. The Department of City Planning is piloting an online engagement platform called Plan Gowanus where you can give your input on a variety of topics in new interactive ways. Plan Gowanus is part of the multi-pronged outreach approach developed in response to feedback from the community.

Welcome to the Gowanus Resiliency & Sustainability Virtual Open House
On December 8, 2016, the Gowanus Neighborhood Planning Study hosted a public meeting on Resiliency and Sustainability. The purpose of the event was to share information about resiliency and sustainability topics in Gowanus and across the city, give the public an opportunity to meet with a cross-section of government agencies and local groups working on these issues in the community, discuss the upcoming public engagement process, and provide a brief summary of the previous month’s kick-off event. A summary of the event and the feedback provided is available in the PDF Document meeting recap.

The handouts, presentation slides, and posters that were available at that meeting are provided below:


Attendees received a one-page PDF Document Welcome sheet describing the meeting’s format and goals and forms to provide questions (in PDF Document English or PDF Document Spanish) and priorities, thoughts, and comments (in PDF Document English or PDF Document Spanish).

Information briefs about flood risk, resilient construction, and flood insurance (in PDF Document English or PDF Document Spanish) were also available at the event.


Representatives from the Department of City Planning, NYC Office of Environmental Remediation, and Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency presented on this study’s process and their office’s key work in and around Gowanus (view the PDF Document presentation). Specifically, the presentation included information on the City’s recent initiatives in sustainability, environmental remediation, and resiliency; a recap of the October 27 Kick-off event; a description of the study process and proposed working groups.

Poster boards displayed at the event provided more information and an opportunity for attendees to discuss specific topics and issues with agency staff in an open house format. These boards are summarized and provided below.

Introduction Boards

What is the Gowanus Neighborhood Planning Study? What happened at the Kick-off open house event on October 27, 2016? What are the City’s goals for resiliency and sustainability and what are local residents and community organizations doing to address them now? This set of posters answers those questions and others, and notes the agencies and organizations that partnered with City Planning for the event. View the PDF Document Introduction Boards.

Sustainability Boards

What does sustainability mean? What is the City doing to support sustainability in Gowanus? These boards highlight some of the ongoing work of agencies like the Department of Environmental Protection and Office of Environmental Remediation, including green infrastructure installations, sewer upgrades, and brownfield clean-ups. View the PDF Document Sustainability Boards.

Resiliency Boards

What is a “resilient city”? What are the current and future risks of flooding? How are buildings in the floodplain regulated? This set of boards explains some of the City’s current initiatives to reduce flood risk in the face of climate change, including a zoning text amendment for resilient building retrofitting and development, New York City Housing Authority property improvements at Gowanus Houses, and flood-proofing of critical infrastructure.  They also provide a list of resources for residents to understand their own flood risk and how to prepare for emergencies. View the PDF Document Resiliency Boards, Part 1 and PDF Document Resiliency Boards, Part 2.

Land Use and Zoning Boards

The Gowanus area includes homes, stores, schools and local services, art and entertainment-related uses, auto-oriented businesses, manufacturing, hotels, and other land uses. These boards provide a map of land uses in and around the study area, along with a description and map of local zoning. They provide a brief overview of what zoning is and how it regulates the construction of new buildings and changes to existing buildings. View the PDF Document Land Use Boards.

Open House held on October 27, 2016

On October 27, 2016, the Department of City Planning hosted a kickoff meeting for the Gowanus Neighborhood Planning Study process. The event began with an open house where local business owners, workers, residents and property owners met with city-agencies around relevant topic areas and discussed the study’s process, approach and goals for the PDF Document framework study areas. DCP also gave a PDF Document presentation that shared the study’s process, approach and broad-based goals.

View the “one-pager” handout on the study’s process, approach and goals (PDF Document English or PDF Document Spanish) and our feedback form (PDF Document English or PDF Document Spanish) that was given out at the meeting. As a follow-up to the event, view the PDF Document meeting recap with a summary of feedback provided at station areas. Please share with us your priorities and goals you would like to see and feel free to reach out for any questions or suggestions by email: or by telephone: 718-780-8280.

Below are each of the boards from the open house:

Neighborhood Study Background, Goals and Approach

What is the Gowanus Neighborhood Planning Study? What are the goals and approach of the PLACES study process? What are the major milestones?

View the boards for PDF Document Study Background and the PDF Document Process and Approach.

Sustainability and Resiliency

How do the topics of sustainability and resiliency relate to the Gowanus study? What is the citywide initiative OneNYC? What are some of the key priorities and initiatives for environmental remediation?

View the boards for PDF Document OneNYC, PDF Document Sustainability, PDF Document Resiliency, and PDF Document Environmental Remediation.

Zoning and Land Use   

What is zoning and what does it do? What are waterfront zoning rules? What land uses are located in and around Gowanus?

View the boards for PDF Document Zoning Basics, PDF Document Local Zoning in Gowanus, PDF Document Existing Land Uses, and PDF Document Waterfront Zoning.

Housing, Jobs and Economic Development

What role do city agencies play in creating and preserving affordable housing? How does job growth and assisting businesses relate to the study?

View the boards for PDF Document Housing and PDF Document Jobs and Economic Development.

Community Resources

What park or open space do you use? How can we improve streets to make them safer? How do we work towards addressing school needs and assist the arts community in Gowanus? Parks, schools, transportation and arts and culture play a crucial role in the everyday lives of area residents.

View the boards for PDF Document Parks and Open Space, PDF Document Schools, Arts and Culture, and PDF Document Transportation.

Where do you live, work and play in Gowanus?

During the event, we heard from residents, workers and other community members about where they live, work and play.

View the PDF Document map board.

Open House held on October 27, 2016