Gowanus, the South Brooklyn neighborhood surrounding its notorious namesake canal, named a Superfund cleanup site in 2010, has long been a haven for artists, who sought it out for cheaper rents and industrial spaces that could double as studios. Slowly, it’s becoming a prime spot for developers, and a destination for families and young professionals.
In 2013, the addition of a Whole Foods on 3rd Ave was an early sign of change to come. A trendy restaurant scene, spearheaded by the 2012 outlier The Pines, well-respected for its inventive small plates, is now seeing new names like Freek’s Mill, a buzzy farm-to-table establishment, opening its doors in the neighborhood. An established art scene, anchored by popular event spaces and music venues like Littlefield and the Bell House, has made Gowanus a cultural hub in the city.
Now, with rezoning plans underway from the Department of City Planning (which would make way for more residential and mixed use spaces) and the EPA’s $500 million cleanup of the canal (kicking off this year) the area is ripe for development.
Scott Avram, the senior vice president of development at the Lightstone Group, which opened the 430-unit luxury rental 365 Bond in May, with an adjacent development, 363 Bond, nearing completion, compares Gowanus’ transition to what neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Dumbo went through a decade ago. Its conversion of industrial warehouses into “more interesting uses,” from coworking spaces to art galleries to unique businesses like Brooklyn Boulders climbing gym and Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, show that “Gowanus is the next in line,” he says. “It’s the last waterfront destination in the entire city that’s undeveloped.”