Grand idea, too late

The city moved to restrict development along a low-rise stretch of Grand Street, but activists urged the city to speed up the process to protect the neighborhood’s character.

The Department of City Planning approved a downzoning of 13 blocks around Grand Street, which would limit the size and appearance of new residential and retail construction.

The rezoning will “protect a critical component of this low scale neighborhood with its beautifully crafted main street,” said Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden in a statement.

The downzoning was necessary, activists said, because the larger, 2005 rezoning of the Williamsburg–Greenpoint waterfront left out the commercial corridor of brick buildings — bookended by Berry Street and Marcy Avenue and stretching a few blocks north and south of Grand Street — and, as a result, could have invited large-scale development.

“The area … is being built up in a way that is wildly out of context with the rest of the area,” said Evan Thies, chairman of the Community Board 1 environmental committee.

The downzoning directly affects two modern, Karl Fischer–designed buildings that are proposed for different corners of Grand and Driggs streets — one 13 stories, the other 15.

The taller building may be substantially redesigned as a result of the city effort, the architect told The Brooklyn Paper this week. The future of the other building is uncertain.

The City Council must approve or reject the downzoning plan within 50 days. The City Council’s zoning and land-use committee will hold a hearing on March 19 at City Hall (Center Street at the Brooklyn Bridge entrance in Manhattan). Call (212) 788-7100 for time of hearing and other info.