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By Council Members Bill De Blasio & David Yassky

The early stages of a rezoning effort in the Gowanus community are a welcome sight to residents. A balanced rezoning of the area will allow for enhanced enjoyment of the Canal and its surrounding neighborhoods, while protecting important and varied uses.

But recent, questionable moves have left people in the Gowanus area concerned over the future of their community, especially with regard to hotel development and the loss of the area’s threatened job base.

Gowanus has the potential to become one of Brooklyn’s model neighborhoods, combining an historic blend of excellent jobs with a growing residential population. The neighborhood stands to attract residents seeking out its peaceful waterfront and the unique, hearty character of its factories and buildings, but rapid hotel development now threatens to transform the Gowanus community into a noisy tourist district.

That’s why we are urging City Planning to bar new hotel development in the Gowanus neighborhood.

Though hotels can be beneficial to the economic development of certain regions, the problems they would cause in the Gowanus community far outweigh any benefits. Businesses and residents are drawn to the Gowanus Canal by the appeal of a quiet working and living environment. But attempts to establish a “Hotel District” of sorts go against longstanding efforts to establish Gowanus as a peaceful manufacturing and residential community.

Hotel guests come and go all day and night, often with taxis or buses idling outside. This kind of constant commotion is not conducive to a residential lifestyle, and would ruin any attempt by residents to establish a peaceful community for themselves and their children.

With three new hotels already and four more rumored to be on the way, hotel development threatens to have an adverse effect on residential development throughout the neighborhood.

Moreover, added hotels would put pressure on the existing manufacturing base and threaten its long-term health. Because hotel use is often more profitable than manufacturing use, manufacturers will likely find themselves priced out of the Gowanus area, contributing to New York’s already accelerating industrial attrition phenomenon.

What’s more, it is unlikely that the jobs created by the hotel industry would offer the kind of sound, stable livelihood that manufacturing jobs currently offer Gowanus residents.

Hotels are also uniquely susceptible to drawn-out financial failure, transforming them into less appealing, fleabag or “hot sheet” motels. Needless to say, this result is hardly desirable to individuals determined to better the appearance of their community.

As the Gowanus rezoning moves forward, zoning officials should take the needs of the Gowanus community into account by barring new hotel development. Failure to do so will result in the slow death of one of New York’s most exciting and promising areas. As your Council Members, we urge you not to let this happen. Call City Planning and tell them to say “No!” to hotels at the Gowanus Canal!

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