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When The Lightstone Group, one of the largest privately-held real estate companies in the United States, proposed a 700-unit development in Gowanus, Brooklyn, the project faced complex land use, environmental and political hurdles. Lightstone envisioned a mixed-use waterfront development that would further enliven the vibrant neighborhood surrounding the Gowanus Canal, an industrially-polluted waterway now undergoing a massive cleanup by the EPA in conjunction with City and State agencies.
An extreme, local anti-development faction had mobilized against the project, creating a challenge for Lightstone to secure minor modifications to the existing land use approval. Geto & de Milly had successfully guided the controversial Toll Brothers City Living project through ULURP in 2009 to secure the necessary rezoning. However, Toll subsequently declined to proceed with the development.
In 2012, Lightstone brought Geto & de Milly on board to navigate the challenging community, government and media relations for their development. Our firm mobilized a coalition of community supporters to advocate on behalf of the project, including the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation, the Gowanus Dredgers, and The Fifth Avenue Committee. Our enlistment of these highly-regarded local civic groups overcame the small but vocal opposition, resulting in an overwhelmingly positive vote at the Community Board in favor of the project. The development was approved by the NYC Planning Commission in 2013 and will break ground in 2014.