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What’s Going on in Gowanus?: The New Special Gowanus Mixed Use District

How your Brooklyn filings will be affected and how you can take advantage.

After a number of years in the works through community and government efforts, Gowanus, Brooklyn has undergone a major rezoning that will bring big changes to the area.

Approved in November 2021, the Gowanus Neighborhood Rezoning Plan will permit the construction of around 8,000 new housing units, with 3/8s dedicated to affordable housing, along the Gowanus Canal (which is supposed to be cleansed of its legendary sludge as part of the neighborhood plan).

According to a recent DOB service update, the introduction of this new Special Gowanus Mixed Use District in the NYC Zoning Resolution will have some ramifications on NYC construction’s immediate, and potentially long-term, future. Here’s what you need to know.

Brooklyn Projects in DOB NOW

Firstly, as of May 17, 2022, ALL applicants for New Buildings and Alt-CO jobs in Brooklyn will be required to answer a new question on the Plans/Work (PW1) in DOB NOW, indicating whether or not “Property is located in the Special Gowanus Mixed Use District and Gowanus Mix Use incentive applies.”

Applicants who answer “Yes” to this question are required to complete the following steps before the job filing can be approved:

  • Upload the completed, signed, and notarized Notice of Restrictions (NOR) form and a copy of the Recording and Endorsement Cover Page as an Additional Supporting Document named “Gowanus Mixed Use NOR/Recording Cover Page”.
  • Answer “Yes” to “Restrictive Declaration/Easement” on the PW1 and enter the CRFN for the NOR.

Gowanus Mix Use Incentive

What is the “Gowanus Mix Use incentive”, you may ask?

Building in the new Special Gowanus Mixed Use District may come with some extra paperwork, but it also brings a few perks.

The Gowanus Mixed Use Incentive will allow projects in the special district to increase their floor area ratio amount by dedicating floor area on the zoning lot to certain uses, known as Gowanus Mix Uses. It will even get its own Use Group distinction.

The goal is to preserve light industrial, arts, and civic uses of the former manufacturing district while promoting more residential housing. But as stated, an NOR must be recorded against the subject tax lot in the Office of the City Register for a project to get the go ahead to join the district.

Solar Panel Pioneers

Another quirk about the new special district is its allowance of 15-foot solar trellises and 100% lot coverage for solar panels on rooftops.

Current zoning regulations for the rest of the city only allow up to four (4) feet of height for roof solar panels, and due to this, a typical new housing development can only cover about 33% of its roof due to other needs for the roof space, such as mechanical equipment.

According to Gotham Gazette, the 15-foot height allowance can help maximize roof space for solar energy generation since it won’t have to compete with other necessary uses.

If the city hopes to complete its goal of installing 1000 MW of solar technology citywide by 2030, the Gazette feels that zoning changes like this may be necessary for New York City as a whole. In this way, Gowanus may prove to be a testing ground for future regulations on solar panel installation, so stay tuned.

The Special Gowanus Mixed Use District is a rezoning experiment that can provide interesting opportunities for industry professionals, but you will need to navigate the paperwork around it with care.

If you are planning to build in this area and need assistance with your PW1 or with compliance on the new regulations, Outsource Consultants is ready to assist you.



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