Applause for Williamsburg Downzoning

The City Council approved the Grand Street downzoning yesterday, despite a last-minute opposition campaign mounted by a group of small-scale Williamsburg landowners.

The proposal to limit building heights to 4-6 stories was pushed through in less than a year to stop construction of two high-rise residential buildings designed by the neighborhood’s most ubiquitous architect, Karl Fischer.

While the downzoning will affect 250 properties in the neighborhood and cost $400 million, according to the new group calling themselves the Grand Home and Business Owners’ Organization, not all Williamsburg developers are against the move.

David Maundrell, the owner of Aptsandlofts.com, a brokerage representing over 100 properties in Williamsburg/Greenpoint, will open his condo in the rezoned area at 275 South Fisher on May 1.

“My project will probably benefit from the downzoning because there will only be two or three buildings as tall in the area,” Mr. Maundrell said a couple of days before the City Council passed the new regulations.

“I understand the neighborhood’s position because most of the north side was rezoned to 70 feet, but there are developers who bought buildings and have development plans based on the current zoning. I don’t know why they didn’t rezone the whole neighborhood then.”

Ironically, the 15-story “Monster Tower” the downzoning was sped through to prevent also might not be affected. Curbed has been reporting a game of “beat the downzoning” at the Fischer site all week.

Construction crews have been working on demolition, excavation, and construction simultaneously to get the foundations down before the City Council vote—what Mr. Maundrell called “the drop dead date.”

The developers of the four luxury condos—two designed by Mr. Fischer—on Bayard Street, the block Curbed has dubbed “Karl Fischer Row,” managed to skirt Williamsburg’s most recent rezoning by laying the foundations before it was passed, allowing them to get grandfathered in.

Applause for Williamsburg Downzoning