After nearly a decade of hemming and hawing, it appears that Gowanus won’t become a historic district in the near future. Following complaints from the neighborhood’s residents, The New York State Preservation Office has decided to forgo that plan.
According to Brownstoner, anti-designation groups managed to gather enough letters of dissent from locals to merit a stay on the plan, which may go through one day, but not anytime soon. Many of those locals worried that historic district status might impede future development or limit what alterations homeowners could make to their property.
At the same time, by turning down designation status, residents are also turning down access to federal funds set aside to help people living in historic districts keep their properties up to par. You may recall that that type of money is already set to drive the completion of the Green Manufacturing Center at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which received national landmark status last week.
This story also raises the questions about whether or not opening the neighborhood to more development is what Gowanus residents really, really want. In the six months since Whole Foods opened in the neighborhood, there have been a number of complaints against the organic grocer. Imagine four or five more Whole Foods-like businesses in the neighborhood. Still, that’s something for Gowanus locals to decide and they seem to be close-knit enough to weigh those questions on their own as a community.
For a more in-depth look at the benefits and drawbacks of Historic District status, check out this article from Brownstoner on the issue.
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