That seems to be the theory floating around on the blogs this week.  Public Place is a site on the shores of the Gowanus Canal, for which the City chose Hudson Companies’ Gowanus Green proposal.  According to Curbed, the original plan called for 774 units of mixed-income housing, with 615 apartments for low- and middle-income families, including 120 units of low-income senior housing; 25,000 square feet of cultural space; 38,000 square feet of ground-floor retail; and nearly 100,000 square feet of public open space located along the canal.  Since that announcement, the size of the project has doubled (from 774 units of housing to up to 1,500) because an adjacent property owner decided to add to the development.  Although this project, with a development team including Task Force member organization Fifth Avenue Committee, would bring much-needed affordable housing to the area, it has been controversial because of the extreme environmental issues on the site.

The NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) held a public scoping hearing on the site yesterday at 5:30 pm, very close to the holidays and with very little publicity.  While the hearing information was on the HPD website, interested members of the public were only likely to find it if they were already looking for the scoping documents.  Perhaps because HPD, not City Planning, is the lead agency on this project, hearing information was not available on DCP’s page.

As our readers know, we always try to stay on top of such meetings so we can get the word out to you.  Yet we learned of this hearing at the same time as most constituents, through an email sent Friday by a community group known as Gowanus CORD.  Curbed has a quick recap of the meeting and says, “Ironically, the way the city handled the ‘scoping’ hearing–which is held to determine how the environmental impact statement will be conducted–may have ended up creating extra opposition.”

Perhaps next time the City will make its hearing information more accessible.

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