Gowanus Trades Artists For Breezy Workspaces

Despite the questionable canal, Gowanus continues to expand its development.

By Jeff Vasishta November 3, 2016
Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn / Credit: Wikipedia

When it comes to gentrification, artists are like kids on a school night—the first arrive and the first to leave. They pioneer run down warehouses in former industrial parks with questionable toxicity levels and gang ridden war zones. Intrepid creatives, fueled by their lack of cash and desire for self-expression give the thumbs up to less brave souls to move forward join the affordable rent party. Next in line, the developers and brokers signal the beginning of the end of the artists’ all too brief stay. This very process is being played out in Gowanus—a superfund site where even mutant fish in the polluted canal have longer leases than the artists who first began turning it around.

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According to over the last year Eli Hamway and his partners at Industrie Capital have had a rolling eviction process ridding artists from the turn-of-the-century warehouses Ninth Street and Second Avenue, with hundreds made to look for new homes. The new developers have borrowed the original owner, Thomas Roulston’s name to rebrand the buildings (now called Roulston House) into pristine communal working spaces full of exposed brick, reclaimed wood and light filled workspaces.

Of course it’s not the first such space in Gowanus to adopt the multiple desks for multiple businesses policy. Cowork/RS opened last year on 68 3rd St, inviting members to share 47,000 square feet of hipster friendly workspace at $450/month or $800/month for a private office, so you can really pretend you’re working while you post on Facebook.

Closer to Sunset Park, Industry City is the resident of 35 acres of waterfront warehouse space including a broad spectrum of creative businesses from bakers to furniture makers.

The Brooklyn Creative League sounds like the sort of name that should belong to an apparel company. However, it’s a communal workspace, located at 540 President St. in Gowanus. Part-timers can clock in 40hrs for $225 which about what they’d pay for months’ worth of coffee’s at Starbucks.

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The development of 363 and 365 Bond Street, the first condo building of its type along the Gowanus has been the major residential development story in the area. The building has 700 rentals starting at the hardly modest, $2000/month. It’s got a galaxy of amenities including a kitchen and dining area, lounge, game room, gym, spinning room, and yoga room that are collectively known as Club Bond—which residents will have to purchase memberships for. Of course.

The Gowanus Canal was famously in the cross-hairs of Hurricane Sandy so the Bond St complex has been built a couple of feet higher as a precaution against flooding, though it’s not immune to run off.

“Everyone has a misconception and lack of understanding of the whole area,” Lightstone’s Senior Vice President of Development Scott Avram said with the breezy nonchalance only a developer building on a superfund site could muster. Avram was talking about one of the development’s more unusual amenities, a partnership with the Gowanus Dredgers Club who since 1999, have controversially led canoe trips along the canal.

I bet they wear gloves and wash their canoes afterwards with bleach.

Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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