Gowanus Waterfront Activists Can Learn from Past Rezoning Failures

Specifically, “failed” waterfront designs in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. As the article points out, despite a 2009 City Planning text amendment to encourage more creative designs for the required waterfront open spaces, very few developers have actually done so.

Domino being the exception in terms of creativity, and control – but they are fast becoming the rule. I have seen at least three recent waterfront proposals that significantly break from the esplanade-and-railing approach to waterfront design (what Greenpoint Landing is being criticized for in the article and in the Greenpoint community). Developers are starting to recognize the value in creating quality open spaces on the water, and in providing direct access to the water (something Domino does not do, but for site-specific reasons).

So why weren’t developers more creative before? I suspect that part of the reason is that the vast majority of the Greenpoint-Williamsburg waterfront constructed to date was done so under the old rules. That is the case for Northside Piers, The Edge (pretty sure) and The Greenpoint. I don’t know what Greenpoint Landing’s excuse is, though.

(Sidenote – 15 years in, it is kind of remarkable that only these four waterfront developments have been built as part of the 2005 rezoning. And only two are actually complete. Greenpoint – get ready…)