Two Trees Management is proposing to radically alter the Brooklyn waterfront with an architecturally ambitious plan for the Domino Sugar factory site in South Williamsburg. The new plan, designed by SHoP Architects with a waterfont park by Field Operations, calls for a series of unusually shaped towers lining a waterfront with active recreation. The previously approved plan called for 3.1 million gross square feet of space, while the new plan, which will have to go through the ULURP process, calls for more than 3.3 million square feet.
According to Jed Walentas, principal at Two Trees, the previously approved plan, designed by Rafael Vinoly Architects, would have added to the monotony of the Brooklyn Waterfront. While the old plan was primarily condominiums and big box retail, the new plan includes office space and neighborhood-scaled retail. “We want to create a real neighborhood,” he said
The plan adds an additional 500,000 square feet of office space, increases open space from 3.26 acres to 5.26 acres, reduces the number of parking spaces, while adding significantly to the building heights. “The goal is to build tall, thinner, lighter architecture,” said Vishaan Chakrabarti, partner at SHoP Architects. “This is the place to create a unique skyline for Brooklyn.” The tallest building, a pair of towers adjacent to the Williamsburg Bridge would rise 598 feet, the “doughnut building” would reach 518 feet, and the third major tower, a combination of office and retail, would top off at 400 feet. In the previously approved plan, the tallest building would have reached 340 feet.
The proposal calls for turning one of the building sites into “Domino Square,” a new public space adjacent to the historic sugar refinery building, which could be used for a farmers market or other community programming. The refinery building would be converted into office space.
The new scheme calls for a slight reduction in the total number of units of housing, approximately 2300, but the developers intend to maintain the same number of units of affordable housing, 660, that were included in the old plan.
The plan also calls for continuing the street grid into the development and down along the waterfront to increase access and connectivity to the surrounding area. Field Operations is designing the park to include a kayak launch, volleyball court, bocce, and other recreational activities, as well as a ferry landing.
In the new plan, the buildings are pushed back slightly from the water and all the mechanical systems would be placed above the flood zone. “We want this project to show that you don’t have to run away from the water,” Chakrabarti said.
Since they closed on the property in October, Two Trees has been meeting with stakeholders, civic groups, and elected officials to gather feedback. “We hope the project will be embraced by the community,” Walentas said.
Two Trees is best known for redeveloping DUMBO, a neighborhood where the company has amassed large real estate holdings. They recently made a high-profile foray into Williamsburg with the trendy Morris Adjmi-designed Wythe Hotel.