The $1.5 billion redevelopment of Brooklyn's Domino Sugar Factory has reached a potential breaking point just days before a vote to seal its fate. It’s New York Mayor Bill de Blasio against developer Jed Walentas in what can best be described as an old-fashioned standoff. The lines are drawn—here’s where things stand. The New York Times reports that Mayor de Blasio has insisted that Walentas increase the amount of affordable housing units at the site. In return, his administration will grant approval for taller towers at the SHoP-designed site. Specifically, de Blasio’s team asked for an additional 50,000-square-feet of affordable housing, which would be used for larger units to accommodate families. But Walentas says he’s already done more than enough. The current proposal sets aside 660 of the total 2,300 apartments for low- and middle-income tenants. In fact, Walentas is reportedly so distraught over the mayor’s request that he has threatened to scrap the whole thing altogether. According to the Times, “Mr. Walentas is balking, and has even threatened to revert to the older, unpopular plan.” That plan only includes only 440 affordable units. While that seems unlikely, some affordable housing advocates are worried de Blasio’s gamble could backfire. Rob Solano, a local community board member and executive director of Churches United for Fair Housing, told the Times, “It’s a delicate balance between pushing as hard as you can and a break… If we get to the point where nothing is built, or there are more delays, that’s another day without affordable housing.” If that were to actually happen, it would be a major blow to the de Blasio administration, which has promised to “preserve or construct” 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next 10 years. Ultimately, this back-and-forth foreshadows the development battles to come as the mayor sets out to achieve his ambitious goal.
Posts tagged with "Domino Sugar Factory":
Last week was a big week for development in the already condo-saturated area of north Brooklyn. Brownstoner reported that City Council gave the massive Greenpoint Landing proposal the green light to construct 10 towers along the East River waterfront. While the project already had the approval to build as of right, the developers made a few concessions including an agreement to build a public school, offer free shuttle service to transit nodes from the complex, bump up the number of affordable housing units, and allocate money towards Newton Barge Park. In Williamsburg, the SHoP-designed Domino Sugar Refinery proposal (pictured) received Community Board One's approval. Two Trees also had as of right to build its string of towers, but the developer is now seeking to increase the height of the buildings and add more green space. Board members requested a few tweaks to affordable housing options and retail.
Today New York City Department of City Planning certified the application for Two Trees' major redevelopment plans for the iconic Domino Sugar Factory site along the Williamsburg waterfront in Brooklyn, marking the start of the six-month public review process. Two Trees purchased the 11-acre property from developer CPC Resources, and is seeking to bump up the height of the buildings from the previously approved plan of 3.1 million square feet of space to 3.3 million square feet, add 500,000 square feet of office space, and dramatically increase the amount of open space. The developer enlisted SHoP Architects to design the plan. Last March, the developer unveiled their plans, which included a series flashy doughnut-shaped towers.
Creative Time’s annual spring benefit at the defunct Domino Sugar factory in Brooklyn received lots of press coverage for its glittering guests, including honoree Julian Schnabel. But GalleristNY was one of the few to flag the fly on the soup: Across the street from the entrance, protestors in hazmat suits handed out “invitations” blasting the controversial company hired by Two Trees—the developer with big plans for Domino—to oversee asbestos abatement. So…that wasn’t powdered sugar on the chocolate soufflé?
After a two-year lull since we broke the story about a potential 440-foot-tall boutique hotel adjacent the Williamsburg Bridge, it looks like developer Juan Figueroa is moving forward with his plans to build a 250-room hotel next to his under-renovation Williamsburgh Savings Bank. The Real Deal reported that the boutique hotel could check in guests as soon as 2015. AN previously reported that Miami-based Oppenheim Achitecture + Design had won an international design competition in 2011, but since the initial announcement, little has been revealed about the design plans. Oppenheim’s 440-foot-tall tower, made up of three slabs, originally seemed like a radical departure from the generic high rises that have spread across Williamsburg. But now with SHoP Architects’ proposed designs for the Domino Sugar Site in the mix, it looks like the north Brooklyn skyline might be injected with a little imagination after being populated with its fair share of prosaic development. Plans for the hotel are in the early stages and an updated design has not been released, nor has Figueroa confirmed the Oppenheim design will be used, but the hotel will reportedly top out at 40 stories, which would fit with the previously reported height of Oppenheim's design. Figueroa is also in the process of turning the neo-classical Williamsburgh Saving Bank into an event space and gallery, and anticipates that the renovation will be complete by this fall.
While Two Trees still needs to make it through the ULURP process before breaking ground on its SHoP Architects-designed mixed-use development for the Domino Sugar site on the Brooklyn Waterfront, the developer has just announced plans for Site E, a vacant parcel on the corner of Kent Avenue and South 3rd. A large section of the 55,000-square-foot lot will be dedicated to a community green space run by North Brooklyn Farms that will host a range of Brooklyn-friendly activities and classes from yoga to urban farming. And on the western side, there will be a bike course, organized by New York City Mountain Bike Association, with areas for riders of all levels. This new urban farm-meets-bike recreation spot will open to the public in May and close once construction commences on the development.
Developer Jed Walentas of Two Trees Management Co. stood up in front of a packed house at a community forum in Williamsburg last night to discuss his ambitious new redevelopment plans for the Domino Sugar Factory Refinery. Citing his family’s history in DUMBO, Walentas told the beer-sipping, tattooed crowd that his intention is to “build an extension of the neighborhood” that is “socially contextual.” The new plan incorporates significantly more commercial and office space, which Walentas says won’t financially benefit Two Trees, but speaks to his company’s philosophy and intent to draw from and embrace the historic and cultural fabric of Williamsburg. While the zoning map doesn’t need to change, the plans still need to go through the ULURP process once again. The new vision for the site puts an emphasis on making the Domino Sugar Refinery a “nucleus” for the neighborhood that would house commercial space and artist studios (some subsidized, some not). An additional building on Grand Street would also be dedicated for small neighborhood retail. Walentas said, like DUMBO, he would fill these space will mom-and-pop stores and promised the audience that there will be no big box stores such as Duane Reade or Starbucks. In addition to commercial, two large community spaces will also be part of the overall plan. From the get-go, affordable housing has been a critical issue in the redevelopment of Domino Sugar Site, and the initial plans that were approved—prior to Two Trees acquiring the property—promised 660-affordable housing units. Walentas says he’s committed to keeping the affordable housing units, which will be 60 to 80 percent of the area median income (AMI), and identical to market rate apartments. The exact income levels have yet to be determined. But while Walentas said that the redevelopment will be “contextual,” Vishaan Chakrabarti, partner at SHoP Architects, told the audience that won't be the case with the design. He acknowledged that the new development isn’t in keeping with Williamsburg’s low-scale, but said, “It will be high no matter what,” referring to any future development to be built on the waterfront. “It is not contextual,” said Chakrabarti. “But we can start creating a skyline we can be proud of.” Chakrabarti argued that the height difference between the old and new plans won't be noticeable to people in the neighborhood and provides several benefits such as more open space inside and a lighter and airier feel. Since the building will be turned perpendicular to the water, he says more light will filter in. But Hurricane Sandy has forced developers and architects to reshape their approach to waterfront development. Chakrabarti addressed some of the changes they plan on implementing from setting the park back to putting basements above grade and building sloped sidewalks to allow water to drain. “The park will act as a sponge because it will be made of permeable material,” said Chakrabarti. The conversation grew heated when a few community members expressed doubt over Two Tree’s commitment to affordable housing and questioned whether the infrastructure in the neighborhood could support this influx of people and new commercial and business sector. “Our intent is to be a long term owner,” said Walentas. “Our interests are aligned with the community’s interests.”
The redevelopment of Brooklyn's Domino Sugar Factory has been a long and controversial process, but is showing signs of progress, or at least a slow but steady crawl to the next phase of planning. The Wall Street Journal reported reported that developer Jed Walentas of Two Trees Management wants to make room for office space in addition to residential units long proposed for the site. The Brooklyn-based firm purchased the 11-acre property last October for $185 million from Community Preservation Corporation Resources (CPCR). Two Trees, known for its transformation of DUMBO, hopes to apply its successful mixed-use formula to north Brooklyn, which has been dominated by clusters of residential high rises over the last decade. Several waterfront neighborhoods in Brooklyn, stretching from DUMBO to Greenpoint, have become home to a number of tech companies, including Kickstarter, Etsy, and Indmusic. Walentas would first need to win the approval from City Council and the Department of City Planning to rezone the area to accommodate office and commercial development. But such a change might not be that easy to make. In 2010, when CPCR sought, and later succeeded, in rezoning the area, the community put up a fight. The promise of affordable housing won over government officials, but Two Trees is mum on whether they plan to follow through on that commitment. Within the last few months, Two Trees has hired SHoP Architects to create the master plans for the Domino Sugar Refinery, taking the place of Rafael Viñoly, and has also enlisted the help of landscape architecture firm, James Corner Field Operations. In December, Two Trees issued a RFP for a proposal suggesting a "creative use" of Site E on Kent Avenue between South 3rd and South 4th streets, according to Brownstoner. Several proposals offered recommendations such as a High Line-style parkland, a skating rink, or open markets.
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."
Domino: Old and New Tuesday, June 20 6:00 p.m. Museum of Jewish Heritage (reception following at Skyscraper Museum) 36 Battery Place Tonight at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the Skyscraper Museum hosts "Domino: Old and New," a program on reinventing Williamsburg's historic industrial waterfront that focuses on the development of the Domino Sugar Factory site. Principals from the project's design, engineering, and construction teams will present on development possibilities for the 11.2 acre site (slated to include over 2000 residential units and four acres of public space) and participate in a panel discussion led by AN's own executive editor Julie V. Iovine. Further details at the Skyscraper Museum.
We tried the new East River Ferry service this week and found some of the best views of the biggest projects in town. Though many of the renderings in circulation for developments like Domino Sugar Factory and Hunters Point show views from the river-front perspective, it's rare that you actually get to see the sites from that angle--until now. We decided to give the ferry service a test-run to check out the viability of getting from an office in downtown Manhattan, such as ours on Murray Street, to Brooklyn and Queens, then completed the loop by heading back the 34th Street terminal. Taking the MTA bus meant a series of transfers and the subway was about five blocks away from the pier, so we opted to take the Downtown Alliance's Downtown Connection, a free service that loops around the southern tip of the island and drops you right off at Wall Street a block from Pier 11. At the corner of Governeur Lane and Front Street the Korilla BBQ truck beckoned, but the long line of Wall Streeters discouraged us. The boat was waiting when we got there and left the dock in about ten minutes. Within about ten more minutes we were docking at Brooklyn Bridge Park and were on our way to four more stops before landing at 34th Street. There, the ferry service runs a free bus loop to Sixth Avenue which wasn't there when we arrived, so we hopped on the M34, transferred and was back in the office in an hour and half from our starting point.
Even with its generous amounts of affordable housing—30 percent of some 2,200 units, as opposed to 20 percent—the New Domino project surrounding the former Domino sugar refinery on the Williamsburg waterfront has faced stiff opposition from the community, as we reported in Issue 02 earlier this year. The local community remains opposed to the project's density and lack of infrastructure to support all those new residents in towers designed by Rafael Viñoly that reach 40 stories, twice as tall as the iconic Domino refinery they will surround. Community Board 1 reaffirmed its opposition last night, when it voted 23-12 against the project. Our pal Aaron Short has an insanely detailed blow-by-blow over on his blog, but it all basically boils down—not unlike most of the board's decisions on land-use matters—that the project is just too damn big. Meanwhile, something even stranger is going on at the waterfront site, as the above picture demonstrates. It turned up yesterday on Curbed, the apparent work of a preservationist cum conspiracy theorist who insists the refinery's many blown-out windows are leading to structural instability and imminent collapse. To which we ask: One lump or two?