BROOKLYN - The city is soliciting proposals to transform a deserted waterfront plot along the Gowanus Canal into affordable housing.

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development started asking for developers' input Tuesday. The city wants to turn a nearly six-acre site at the corner of 5th and Smith streets into a commercial and residential development.

Proposals must include at least 400 housing units, of which at least half would be for low- and middle-income tenants. The city also wants the site to have a community facility and open space.

The plan is part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's long-term vision of creating more affordable housing in Brooklyn and across the city.

While many housing advocates agree the units are needed, some argue the project raises serious questions.

"[The plan] does allow for 12-story buildings and I think they are going to be people in the community who will raise concerns," said Bob Zuckerman, of the Gowanus Canal Community Development organization.

Area industrial businesses are already arguing the city is trying to push them out to turn the neighborhood completely residential.

Related information:Pre-submission conferenceTuesday, July 31 at 2 p.m.100 Gold St.Department of Housing Preservation & Development