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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 20, 2008 9:56 PM.

A Big Day for Grand Street

141 - 149 Grand Street

The Grand Street rezoning, which has been wending its way through the public approval since December, cleared its next to last hurdle today - the City Council's Land Use Committee voted to approve the rezoning with minor modifications. The next and last stop is a vote by the full Council, which could come as early as next week.

Once enacted, the zoning for all of Grand Street from Kent Avenue to Marcy Avenue will more closely reflect the existing context. Most blocks will be limited to buildings of four to five stories, with a density roughly in line with what was allowed previously. Out of scale "finger" buildings and developments that ignore the prevailing street wall will not be allowed.

Comments (8)

Nelson Cuesta:



It’s not just Grand Street; this would substantially impact approximately eleven (11) of the thirteen (13) block area indicated for rezoning, of which only five (5) are on Grand. Additionally, the proposed rezoning has a blue outline, which encompasses four blocks with the largest bold red R6B in the center of it. Although it may not have been intentionally drawn this way, it would have been reasonable to assume that the topical R6B explanation applied only to encompassed area, had you been aware to begin with. Considering it would be impossible for a non-professional to understand and have the ability to search the zoning codes volumes of esoteric material, we sought interpretation from three (3) architects in our community. Much to our dismay, we heard a litany of consequences that evoked nearly immediate despair and then outrage. The ramifications and limitations the R6B zoning would impose were horrendous. We found ourselves in utter disbelief that we and eleven (11) blocks worth of property owners and families could stand to loose 20% and 33% (wide streets) of their land usage and not even get notified. Could this be possible? Unbelievably and quite remarkably the resounding answer is, yes. No invitation, it just turned in to a private party. We promptly notified a few more owners and quickly assembled an outreach program and found that nearly no one knew, a couple of owners that knew stated that they had heard about the proposed rezoning, however, they thought it would only protect the community from these towers. One of them was lead to believe that his property value would benefit from the better zoning. No one really knew the implications or that this was on the verge of a final a vote that would affect each and every property owner. It’s believed this started with a concerned property owner which lives on Fillmore place, she was going to be faced with having a behemoth fourteen (14) story tower erected behind her back yard. She prudently rallied support and got that of Community Board One (1) and a North Side community group, which appears to be headed by Peter Gillespie. She and maybe others sought relief from this horrible situation that was looming. This small group rallied and found plenty of support against this and another tower that they later learned was planned right across the street from the one that was menacing them. Meanwhile, no one made any reasonable effort, if any, to notify all the property owners. This also holds true for all the governmental agencies that were involved with this process. After all, time was of the essence and they needed to move quickly and probably everyone overlooked the very important process of notification, or maybe they experienced little to no opposition and felt it was not necessary. As it turned out, there were so many people in our group we could have covered the gamut in just about many areas with the right expertise. We believe CB1 and the North Side Community Group is comprised of many well intended individuals that selflessly donate their time to the well being of the communities they serve. We further believe that Council Member Reyna is also well intended and found her to be genuinely surprised to find anyone in opposition to the proposed rezoning, let alone ten of us. Which were the only people available on such short notice. Apparently, many of the entities involved may have been misled as to the more intricate details and consequences of the R6B rezoning. Nonetheless, we are facing a massive loss of equity on an estimated two hundred and fifty-four (254) properties. Every effort must be made to either preserve or recover our equity from this unwarranted situation that we are now faced with. We must urge the Council to appropriately delay the scheduled vote foe March 26th, IN THE MATTER OF an application submitted by the Department of City Planning pursuant to Sections 197-c and 201 of the New York City Charter for an amendment of the Zoning Map, Section Nos. 12c, 12d, and 13b. This would allow the proper opportunity for the responsible entities to redress our issue and adopt an R6A amendment to the proposed zoning area. Or at minimum, give us the fair notification and allow us the opportunity voice our opposition. Also, be aware that our attorney has obtained a commitment from Ken Fisher, the attorney for the owners of the proposed fourteen (14) story tower, they have agreed and are prepared to immediately sign-off on an agreement that would mirror the restrictions applicable to an R6A zoning, with a six (6) story limit on the main building. Therefore, we are now in a position to get the New York City Council the assurance they needed to move forward and fix the impending problems of our community. This request will be presented at the scheduled meeting with Council Member Reyna on March 24th. We’re confident that Council Member Reyna will continue her unwavering dedication and support to our community. We need to seek relief for the property owners, their families and the residents of our community that will also be affected by this, by the widespread effects that an R6B zoning would cause everyone.

The following is a preliminary list of concerns and consequences identified to date:

1. R6B would cause an immediate cumulative devaluation of equity in possibly 254 properties, at an estimated $150-250 dollars per B.S.F, were are talking about Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in Lost Property Values and Millions more in lost taxes and business to our community.
2. R6B will limit the number of affordable housing units available in new multifamily properties, which commences with the newly revised 421A abatement that takes effect on July 1st, 2008.
3. The R6B would deter construction investment, capital improvement, and reduce the number of rental and sales units. Which every one knows is the basic principal of supply and demand.
4. The R6B would also reduce the tax revenues from the smaller buildings and the lower amount of people that would not exist to patronize our local establishment, which in our area are not thriving in most instances.
5. R6B would disallow additional space and creation of community facilities for day care centers, youth centers, medical offices and other community based benefits.
6. R6B adds commercial use classes that may potentially allow uses that may not be desirable to our community. The current already allows way too many bars, what more uses will these additional use classes potentially subject our community to is unknown for now.
7. R6B will restricts owners that suffer a serious fire loss, condemnation, catastrophic loss, or any other substantial loss of property, they would only be permitted to rebuild a fraction of what they previously had in most cases.
8. R6B creates a problem for existing property owners, purchasers and the lending institutions to that issue mortgages.
9. R6B will not allow property owners to expand any additional footage they may have had before, they can forget about making an apartment for their loved one or maybe creating a supplement to their income or retirement.
10. R6B will limit the ceiling height to approximately 8’6” at best, otherwise you would have to sacrifice a whole story to accomplish a higher, more desirable ceiling height, unless you have money to burn, this would be cost prohibitive.
11. R6B would grossly limit the interest of would be property buyers to purchase the remaining dilapidated buildings and put up nice attractive buildings, instead the limitation of build would cause the creation of cheap construction, flat beige brick fronted facades, no reference is being made to the ugly duckling on South 1st, street with the bronze aluminum sliders to nowhere.
12. R6A would fix all the above noted problems and most importantly the R6A zoning will rid our community of these awful towers that do not belong here, and we would finally rid ourselves of these greedy large-scale developers that have plagued our community since the rezoning of 2005.


There is a lot of misinformation circulating about R-B Contextual Zoning and the community development goals it promotes. The primary goal of R6-B contextual zoning is to promote development while maintaining the existing neighborhood fabric. It achieves this by effectively discouraging development projects that are dependent upon tearing down existing buildings and/or assembling sites for large scale projects. As an alternative to this scenario, R6-B contextual zoning encourages channeling capital investments into maintaining, renovating, and restoring existing buildings and not eliminating them.

On the other hand, R6-A zoning along Grand Street would not “fix all of the R6-B problems” as stated in the misinformed (or cynical) petition that is being distributed but would simply fuel another round of new development.

In the City’s 2005 Williamsburg rezoning, R6-A zoning designations were applied in primarily in low density manufacturing areas where the City was encouraging new development. This is not the appropriate zoning designation for Grand Street. R6-A zoning would encourage tearing down the typical three and four story buildings along Grand Street, assembling sites to maximum capital investments, and replacing them with seven-story glass and steel luxury projects. This particular development vision is based on the premise that a neighborhood should be viewed as a clean slate whose value is calculated in terms of density bonuses, square foot costs, and maximizing large scale investments and not on a place where actual people live and work. As an alternative to this grim picture, community development should be based on organic growth within the existing height and density framework, the recognition of the importance of long-term neighborhood sustainability and stability, and include in its the calculations the premium value of existing neighborhood character.
There is also some basic misinformation concerning allowable density in an R6-B zone. A Floor-Area-Ratio (FAR) of 2.0 in an R6-B zone does not encourage two-story buildings as some people seem to think. For example, on a typical 25’ x 100’ foot lot the allowable density is 5,000 square feet within a 50 foot structure (with a 40 foot street wall.) This would probably result in a building with a little more than 1,000 square feet per floor (a nice size two bedroom apartment) in a five story building. In addition four blocks in the 13 block area are also eligible for an inclusionary bonus density from 2.0 to 2.2 if the development includes affordable housing for low or moderate income households with incomes of up to $70,000 for a two bedroom apartment. For small, community-based development projects this bonus might make economic sense while also providing much-needed affordable housing.

Finally, in the City’s 2005 Williamsburg-Greenpoint rezoning a 25-block area in the heart of the predominately residential portion of the Northside including the Bedford Ave commercial corridor was down-zoned to R-6B. Would anyone even try to suggest that this has dampened property values, investment and contextual development?


I would have a little more respect for the people opposed to the rezoning if not for all the misinformation being spread around.
First of all, there was nothing secretive about the pro-rezoning group. I joined them several months ago after hearing about it from a few of my neighbors. After joining the group, I told everyone I knew about it and encouraged them to come to meetings. Most of them couldn't be bothered.
One of the people I told about the rezoning inititative showed up at the City Council with the group opposed to the down-zoning and claimed she knew nothing about it. Aside from the fact that I had told her months before, everyone knew that the zoning change was looming, hence the big rush to get foundations in and be grandfathered.
And all of these claims are just so inflated or just plain untrue.

1.No one's equity is going down, saying this is just a scare tactic.

2. What affordable housing? What's being built is luxury housing. Some of the larger buildings would have had a small amount of "affordable" housing, which is only done for the tax abatements developers get, not out of the goodness of their hearts.

3. Yes, there will be less sales and rental units, because there won't be a 14 story tower.

4. R6B will not affect existing tax revenues and most of the businesses in the area are doing quite well.

5. The "community facilities" inclusion is so much BS, yes, it theoretically mean a day care center but it can be any business that "serves" the community, such as an expensive private gym, or a gourmet grocery, which is how the so-called community facilities have been filled in most of the towers. Show me the sliding scale daycare center or low-cost medical clinic or anything that truly serves the needs of the community in any of the north side towers please.

6. This is totally untrue, in fact, under R6B there will be LESS bars, because less commercial space will be included in new buildings.

7. I have read R6B and see nothing that does not permit rebuilding. Go to the city panning site and read it for yourself,

8."R6B creates a problem for existing property owners, purchasers and the lending institutions to that issue mortgages. "
A vague statement that doesn't seem to have any merit. What kind of problems?

9. All zoning laws limit the the square footage of additions, R6B is no more restrictive.

10. R6B requires that new buildings are consistent with the scale of the existing context. Since most of the older buildings have much higher than 8' 6" ceilings, I'm assuming new buildings can too.

11. Oh I could go on about this forever. Most of what's been built around here under R6A has been butt ugly and cheap-looking. The ugly building on S. 1st St. has been a major point of reference- we asked for the R6B rezoning to be hastened specifically to prevent another monstrosity like this from going up.

12. R6B is the solution that "rid our community of these awful towers that do not belong here, and we would finally rid ourselves of these greedy large-scale developers that have plagued our community since the rezoning of 2005."


Oh, and property owners are not outraged. Almost all of the people who worked on the rezoning initiative are Williamsburg property owners, and most own property within the new R6B area. Far from outraged, we are relieved.


Hey williamsburger: First of all, I do not blame you for staying anonymous. Considering what you have done to your own friends, neighbors, business owners, I would not blame you if you moved out of Brooklyn altogether. The nonsense that you are spewing is ridiculous. The majority of businesses in the rezoning area are NOT doing very well. This is an easy one. I would encourage people to ask the shop keepers, they will tell the story. A continued pattern of lies and deceit by saying "R6B will not hurt existing tax revenue", when in fact it would be obvious that we are talking about new additional tax revenues, not existing. Existing tax revenue may also be at risk, I hope not. Just for your edification, the 421A tax abatement program will require 80/20 affordable housing effective 7/1/08. As for the rest of the wool you're trying to pull over everyones eyes, consider the following folks; Just ask an experienced real estate agent or broker if less buildable square feet equals less value. Ask a Registered Architect if being maxed on your Floor Area Ratio would prevent you from adding an extension. Call 311, ask for the Department of Buildings, then ask if you would have to comply with R6B, should your building get destroyed. Everyone can check out these sources and not waste time reading williamsburger's futile attempts of damage control.

However, you write quite well. Just consider adding some truth and get it over with. As most of us know, the truth always comes out, why wait?


Nelson, if you guys are right, why all the misinformation, lies, hostility, veiled threats and personal attacks? Obviously I have good reasons not to use my real name. Maybe if you guys would present your case in an honest way, people would be more willing to listen to you. For example: R6b allows 4 story buildings. If you are only building a 4 story as you claim, what are you upset about?
The truth is, you guys knew this zoning change was on the books for *years*. Do you expect us to believe that you planned this project and took out loans without checking the zoning status? The City Planning Board studied the area and decided R6B was the right zoning. We agree. Maybe you should have done this: "Just ask an experienced real estate agent or broker" before you started digging your foundation. I'm not going to respond to your personal attacks and I won't be leaving Brooklyn anytime soon.


I recently read everyone's posts about this issue to see both sides of the argument. I wanted to know all the facts and opinions. But, today I found out some VERY HILARIOUSLY sad information!!!!!!

The developer who did the condos at the corner of Roebling and Grand St. has a poster up on his store front window with a photograph that shows the outline of where a building should be and it says.

"A nursery school would have been built here. But,because of the new zoning we will be without much needed community spaces".

I did a little research and found out this very same developer has a building half a block away down Grand St. with community "not for profit space". That is how it's zoned. I walked by this building before (two weeks ago) and noticed a company occupying the commercial space called "BUDDY LUBE" that was stenciled all over the walls. I just researched the company and as it turns out they are a MULTI-MILLION dollar internet business making profiles for bands and movie stars on myspace or the like!!!!

What the hell is going on here? The main space where people meet to protest and talk about the down-zoning is owned by the very same person who is profiting off his fake community space!!! And I am guessing he is the ringleader behind this whole anti-zoning movement!

I really didn't know where I stood before finding out the facts because I thought booth sides were right in different ways. Now I come to find out that this person who is taking a "moral" stance by saying that our neighborhood is in need of more community space (a nursery school for crying out loud!!) is such an immoral hypocrite he rents his community space illegally to some horrible money hungry internet company. No, shame on you! And I feel totally justified saying that (it states this many time on his
window directed towards the pro-zoning change activists).

The really funny part of all this is I walked by "Buddy Lube" again today and saw that they had painted over their wall logos and painted everything poo brown. Maybe a suggestion from the land lord to be more inconspicuous???

This tells me that the project I heard about in earlier posts (helping "senior citizens") is a totally manipulation to own more commercial space. So he has attempted to con old people out of their commercial space??

This is the reality and if you don't believe me go see for yourself. I suggest that you do, it's scary!
I think the address of that business is 289 Grand St. or something near by.

Do you recognize that it is the best time to receive the personal loans, which would make you dreams real.

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Eberhard Faber