Lawrence St tower may top Williamsburgh Bank

The Brooklyn Paper
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The Williamsburgh Bank Building’s iconic clocktower would no longer be the borough’s tallest structure, if a big-time development company has its way.

The Clarett Group, the firm behind the Forte condos in Fort Greene, submitted a proposal in June for a 51-story residential building at 111 Lawrence St., near the Metrotech campus Downtown.

The Buildings Department rejected the proposal and sent it back to the developer for revision.

But if the basic elements of the proposal remain intact, the 491-unit residential tower would rise 514 feet, two feet taller than the legendary Williamsburgh Bank Building.

The developer did not return repeated requests for comment. But local preservationists are wary.

“There is nothing sacrosanct about the specific height of the Williamsburgh Bank building,” said Simeon Bankoff, Historic Districts Council executive director. “It’s more of a case of what we want Brooklyn to look like. Do we want Brooklyn to be the mirror image of the Manhattan skyline?”

In 2006, Brooklynites were similarly aghast to discover that Miss Brooklyn, the trophy skyscraper of the Frank Gehry-designed 16-tower-and-arena Atlantic Yards project, would rise to 620 feet and obscure views of the clocktower. Later that year, developer Forest City Ratner, agreed to lower its height to below 512 feet.

If Bankoff had his way, Clarett would do the same.

“Brooklyn was once called the borough of churches, because church steeples were the tallest things around,” said Bankoff. “The notion of this high-rise living is not necessarily what defines Brooklyn as an area, as a notion, as a state of mind.”

News about the Lawrence St. deal was first reported on

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