Over the weekend, the New York Daily News broke the story that the Brooklyn-based developer Two Trees would be buying the Domino Sugar Factory site on the Williamsburg waterfront. Responsible for developing the DUMBO neighborhood into a mix of galleries, retail, residential, and offices, Two Trees seems to have set its sights farther north. The company’s Wythe Hotel, a renovated textile factory located at Wythe Avenue and North 11th Street in Williamsburg, has been doing brisk business since opening in May. The Domino site, which contains landmarked buildings, sits several blocks south.
The Walentas family, owners of Two Trees, remains tight-lipped about the Domino deal, but Crain’s reported that Two Trees has signed a preliminary term sheet for $160 million purchase price with current owner Community Preservation Corporation Resources (CPCR), which would relieve CPCR of its current $125 million mortgage and interest debt. “Two Trees understands waterfront development, is well-capitalized and is the best chance for this site to get developed into the mixed-income, mixed-use community it was intended to be,” said CPCR chief executive Rafael Cesteros in a statement.
In Williamsburg, tongues are wagging about the prospect of a Walentas take-over of the site. The company has a reputation for supporting local arts and thoughtful renovations, and some wonder if Two Trees could help bring one community group’s vision for Domino closer to reality. The group Williamsburg Independent People (WIP) has proposed converting Domino into a mixed-use “cultural hub” that includes galleries, event spaces, a hotel, and a marina, as well as 200 affordable housing units.“It’s exciting that Two Trees could develop the Domino because they have a long history of supporting arts non profits in DUMBO, such as Smack Mellon and the Dumbo Arts Center,” said Bridget Murphy, an independent art consultant and Williamsburg resident.”Their past projects seem in alignment with the vision of many local community groups, including WIP’s.”