City council on Tuesday approved the rezoning of Gowanus in Brooklyn to create thousands of affordable housing units in the neighborhood, paving the way for an upcoming vote on a similar overhaul for SoHo and NoHo.

Meanwhile, the board also approved a proposal to expand the Upper East Side headquarters of the New York Blood Center to create a life science research center near some of the city’s top hospitals.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who backed the Blood Center plan, led the Gowanus remodel with the goal of using rezoning to help generate much-needed affordable housing in largely white and affluent neighborhoods. A vote is expected on the SoHo / NoHo proposal next month as de Blasio nears the end of his second term as mayor.

“This is exactly the sort of thing we have come here to do,” de Blasio said on Tuesday morning, hours before the Council moved. “And it’s a great pleasure to do it right as we complete these eight years together.”

The Gowanus plan provides for the creation of 8,500 new housing units in total, of which 3,000 are permanently affordable. The deal also includes a city pledge of $ 200 million for improvements to the Wyckoff Gardens and Gowanus social housing projects.

The measure rose to 47 votes to 1. Time-limited council member Carlos Menchaca (D-Brooklyn) voted against the plan.

City Councilor Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn), the city’s new comptroller, said the crossing marked a victory for the city – and for the community’s contribution.

“The rezoning of Gowanus shows that it’s possible for New Yorkers to plan together for a more inclusive and sustainable city,” said Lander, who represents a large part of Gowanus. “That a lot of people will embrace growth in their neighborhood if they are truly a part of the planning process and see it as a way to achieve shared values. ”

“See you in court”

The most significant rezoning in the past eight years came when the SoHo / NoHo proposal entered negotiations at an advanced stage.

Lower Manhattan neighborhoods haven’t been dezoned since 1971, when artists living in cheap industrial lofts sought to legalize their homes.

The region is now one of the wealthiest and least diverse in New York City, according to city data. The rezoning plan aims to add at least 900 apartments for low-income New Yorkers as part of the city’s mandatory inclusive housing program.

Shoppers walking along Wooster Street in SoHo.
Hiram Alejandro Durán / THE CITY

Enemies fear that rezoning will allow too much density in the widely identified area and bring big box retail stores.

Council members Carlina Rivera and Margaret Chin, who represent the neighborhoods, are working to ensure that sufficient affordable housing is guaranteed, according to President Corey Johnson.

The mayor’s rezoning plans were not easy to adopt and met with opposition from the community. A judge had temporarily delayed certification of Gowanus’ proposal earlier this year after a group of neighborhood activists filed a lawsuit.

New developments emerged near the Gowanus Canal on November 19, 2021.

New developments have sprung up near the Gowanus Canal.
Hiram Alejandro Durán / THE CITY

The group, Voice of Gowanus, said on Tuesday it planned to file another lawsuit against the city after it hired environmental lawyer Richard Lippes, who represented the Love Canal families in the 1970s. Gowanus is a Superfund site.

“As Brad Lander today celebrates a massive violation of state and federal laws – a violation that endangers the safety of our community and the environment, and complies with the interests of large real estate – we note that ‘a certain lady has yet to sing when it comes to the rezoning of Gowanus, “a Voice of Gowanus representative wrote in a statement, adding,” See you in court. ”

Lander credited opponents with making the plan more inclusive and stronger, helping to gain additional benefits for the community. “The people who live there now benefit from all the investments,” he said.

More deference to members

Approval for the expansion of the New York Blood Center came despite opposition from the neighborhood and from council member who represents the area, Ben Kallos.

The developer plans to build a tower on the current site of the six-story East 67th Street center that would both provide current blood services to nearby hospitals while providing space for life science companies.

The New York Blood Center on East 67th Street, October 4, 2021.

The New York Blood Center on East 67th Street
Ben Fractenberg / THE CITY

Kallos and other members of the community had objected to the building’s initially proposed height, which was reduced from 100 feet to 233 feet, before the project was passed. Opponents, whose last-minute legal attempt to stop the vote failed, argue the planned building would cast shadows on a local school and park.

Kallos, whose term ends Dec.31, said the vote signified a marked change against deference from members – the council’s tradition of generally following the wishes of the lawmaker who represents the region. The measure has changed from 43 to 5.

City Council Member Ben Kallos speaks on Roosevelt Island, June 2, 2021.

Municipal Councilor Ben Kallos
Emil Cohen / New York City Council

“Local council members no longer matter and can no longer represent their communities,” Kallos said.

Council members supporting the project said the planned science center would provide space for research on many health issues, including sickle cell disease, which disproportionately affects black people.

“Let’s not let the shadows overshadow the health of New Yorkers,” said board member Rafael Salamanca (D-The Bronx), who chairs the land use committee.

Johnson said the proposal is “important to the future of New York City because of the importance of the blood center.”