Transforming a neglected Brooklyn waterfront property into a vibrant mixed-use development
When The Lightstone Group, one of the largest privately-held real estate companies in the United States, proposed a 700-unit development in Gowanus, Brooklyn, the project faced complex land use, environmental and political hurdles. Lightstone envisioned a mixed-use waterfront development that would further enliven the vibrant neighborhood surrounding the Gowanus Canal, a former industrial waterway now undergoing a massive environmental cleanup by the EPA in conjunction with City and State agencies.
Geto & de Milly had successfully guided the controversial Toll Brothers City Living project in Gowanus through ULURP in 2009 to secure the necessary rezoning. Later, when Toll decided not to pursue the project, Lightstone introduced its vision to develop this same site. A local faction opposing development mobilized against the new project, creating a significant challenge for Lightstone to secure minor modifications to the existing land use approval.
In 2012, Lightstone engaged Geto & de Milly to navigate the difficult community, government and media relations for their development. Our firm worked to educate the community on the merits of the project, and organized a coalition of community supporters to advocate on its behalf. This group included the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation, the Gowanus Dredgers and the Fifth Avenue Committee. Our enlistment of these highly-regarded local civic groups created a common-sense counterweight to the small but vocal opposition, resulting in an overwhelmingly positive vote at the Community Board in favor of the project. The development was approved by the NYC Planning Commission in 2013 and will break ground in 2014.