Ahead of its June 2018 opening date, Domino Sugar Factory developer Two Trees Management has released new renderings of the project’s forthcoming park, as well as opened the site up for a tour. AN had a chance to check out the James Corner Field Operations-designed Domino Park, as well as the completed 325 Kent Avenue and the ongoing interior demolition at the Domino Sugar Refinery. The SHoP Architects-designed 325 Kent, a doughnut-shaped rental building set back from the Williamsburg waterfront, was the first building to reach completion at the SHoP-master planned site. The 16-story, 500-unit rental building (105 of them affordable) began welcoming residents back in September of 2017. As the weather warms up, residents will get to make use of the rooftop amenities on display, such as curved concrete furniture, lounge chairs, and the central strip of courtyard that runs between the building’s central arch. Domino Park is taking shape at the foot of 325 Kent and is on track to open in only 8 weeks. The quarter-mile-long park breaks its programming into “active” and “passive” activity spaces, with the more active areas located closer to the thrum of the Williamsburg Bridge. The second Domino Sugar Factory tower, the mixed-use, COOKFOX-designed 260 Kent, is on track to open in 2019. A dog run, two bocce ball courts, a 6,300-square-foot “flexible playing field” and a volleyball court make up the more energetic half. At the other end, a Japanese Pine garden, 80-to-100 person picnic area, and the Danny Meyer-run taqueria, Tacocina, will sit at the quieter half of the park. A technicolored children’s play space designed by artist Mark Reigelman, with industrial pieces inspired by the sugar refining process, can be found at the passive end of the park, as can 585-linear-feet of elevated walkway. The walkway sits directly on top of Tacocina, and incorporates 21 steel columns from the former Raw Sugar Warehouse into its superstructure; the sight will be a familiar one to visitors familiar with Kara Walker’s The Sugar Sphinx. Linking each area along the waterfront will be the Artifact Walk, a five-block-long stretch that proudly displays historical refining artifacts salvaged from the site. Four 36-foot tall cylindrical syrup tanks embedded in the Syrup Tank Garden, mooring bollards, signage, and corkscrews have been installed across an elevated platform on the water’s edge. Damaged during Hurricane Sandy, the existing platform was raised to a uniform height above the river, and the new piles have been encased in concrete. To build a historical link to the pre-existing structure, a hole has been cut in the platform and visitors can view the existing wood posts and river below. Work on gutting the Domino Sugar Refinery is still ongoing, in anticipation of the PAU-designed glassy office space that will soon sit within. While the exterior of the factory has been landmarked, preserving the interiors would have been impossible due to the interconnected nature of the refining machinery. Even though the factory shut down in 2004, the thick smell of molasses is still hanging around the building at the time of writing. As for the park, although it’s technically private, Two Trees has opened the expanse to the public and is working closely with the New York City Parks Department. A representative from the development company has stated that James Corner Field had their designs reviewed and approved by Parks, that the stretch will operate on normal NYC park hours (dawn to dusk), and that they’ve given the city permission to claim the park if maintenance falls behind. AN will provide a final look at the finished Domino Sugar Park once the project is completed this summer. COOKFOX's 260 Kent will be featured in detail at the upcoming Facades+ workshop "K. Domino Site A: Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) & When and Why to Use It" on April 20.
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After a long and heated fight to save Brooklyn’s Long Island College Hospital from demolition, the site’s future as a medical center has been cemented. But along with the full-service hospital could come two residential towers that are significantly taller than anything in the predominantly-brownstone Cobble Hill neighborhood. According to Crain’s, “the would-be real estate developers of the medical campus are counting on high-rise residential towers of a scale never before seen in the heart of brownstone Brooklyn in order to make the deal pencil out, according to emails among executives involved in the bid.” Brooklyn Health Partners—a company created to participate in the bidding process for the project—is reportedly planning two 40–50 story towers at the site, one condo and one rental. The scale of these towers was not included in the team’s winning bid. The group's spokesperson told Crain’s they’re not yet focused on that part of the project. To get this plan approved, the development team is also adopting what Crain's called the “Domino approach”—a reference to the winning strategy for the redevelopment of the Domino Sugar Factory. At that site, the developer, Two Trees, was granted zoning changes in exchange for an increase in affordable housing. Plans for the towers at the Long Island College Hospital site call for 20 percent affordable units in the condo tower, and 40 percent in the rental. As the with Domino, this plan requires approval from the de Blasio Administration and City Council. Updated 4/30/2014: Sources tell the Daily News that Brooklyn Health Partners' plan to maintain a hospital on the Long Island College Hospital site has likely collapsed. The News reports, "De Blasio, state officials and two powerful healthcare unions all but acknowledged that the winning bidder for the site, a group called Brooklyn Health Partners, has little ability to follow through on its pledge to maintain a hospital there." A spokesperson for Brooklyn Health Partners rejected this report, saying, "On May 5, BHP will make a $25 million non-refundable payment and show it has the financial means to complete the entire project." Watch this space.
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.
Proposals galore! Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) is moving full speed ahead with its plans to develop parcels of its 1.3-mile waterfront expanse. In September, the Park released a Request for Proposals seeking a developer to restore and makeover the crumbling Empire Stores warehouses into a lively mixed-use development consisting of office, commercial, and retail space, while also preserving the integrity of the massive historic structure. Ten prominent developers submitted proposals to overhaul the brick and timber building made up of seven connecting warehouses. And now Crain's has revealed about half the list of developers vying for this project with heavy hitters such as: Jamestown Properties (behind Chelsea Market and Milk Studio), Two Trees (run by the Walentas family who has transformed DUMBO and is redeveloping the mega Domino Sugar Refinery site), Acumen Capital Partners, Robert A. Levine (of colossal residential building, One Brooklyn Bridge Park), and Midtown Equities (Crain's reported that their proposal is the current front-runner). The proposals envision a variety of uses for the Empire Stores buildings from cultural and artisan office space to a rooftop urban farm and terraces. Regina Myer, president of Brooklyn Bridge Park, is hoping to grant the winning proposal a 99-year lease. This development, like the Rogers Marvel-designed Pierhouse residential and hotel complex, will generate money for the maintenance and operation of the park.
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?
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.
Last week, as New York was blindly transfixed on its impending Thanksgiving feast, the Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) released renderings of a proposed mixed-use development that has been floated to help fund the waterfront park. Seven proposals stacked, folded, and otherwise covered in plants a program calling for several hundred hotel rooms and residences on two park-side sites on Furman Street. The developer/architect breakdown was full of the regular big names and heavy hitters: Brooklyn's Two Trees selected WASA/Studio A; Toll Brothers worked with Rogers Marvel; SDS worked with Leeser; Extell went with Beyer Blinder Belle; Dermot with FX Fowle; RAL with CDA; and Starwood teamed with Alloy Development, Bernheimer Architects, and n Architects. Building any new buildings along the park has been a contentious issue, but the tax revenue the new development would generate would go a long way toward BBP's financial sustainability. While architects whipped up some flashy renderings, one aspect seems certain to rouse fans of Brooklyn Heights' elevated promenade. In several of the renderings, views of the Brooklyn Bridge appear slightly interrupted despite guidelines that limit the height of new construction. BBP spokesperson Ellen Ryan told AN that all of the proposals adhere to the Special Scenic View Corridor regulations set forth by City Planning, which are actually lower in height than the old cold storage warehouses that once stood on the site until the 1950s. The building height limits range from 55 feet on the south parcel and 100 feet on the north. That's not the only thing driving neighborhood angst. The Brooklyn Eagle pointed out that the public only has about four weeks to review and comment on the proposals—until December 22—and at the height of the holiday season rush no less. There's a lot to like about the proposals as well. WASA/Studio A clad their curvilinear buildings with giant green walls with windows poking through while Rogers Marvel and others planted every available rooftop space with green roofing. FXFOWLE's stacked metal-mesh-covered volumes connect to the planned Squibb Park pedestrian bridge, providing direct access to its rooftops in what looks to be a gesture to the High Line. Leeser Architects' futuristic proposal called for a massive atrium filled with a gym and a floating pool, while Starwood's team of Bernheimer and n Architects lifted their proposal to provide views of the park along the sidewalk. Take a look at all of the proposals below and share your thoughts in the comments. All images courtesy respective firms / Brooklyn Bridge Park.
It's hard to avoid the advertisements for Mercedes House; they're everywhere. The ads, with their renderings of a completed project, employ the recent trend of touting the building's architectural credentials, in this case "designed by Enrique Norten" of TEN Arquitectos. One could be forgiven for thinking the project was finished a long time ago. But could real estate savvy New Yorkers not notice a huge serpentine-shaped building rising on Manhattan's West Side? Not likely. In fact, the Two Trees development is only about one quarter complete. However, as the ads note, you can move in right now--if you want to rent. More than 220 rentals are done, and when we took our walk-through last month financing was in place to complete the remaining 665 units, which includes 170 condos. The most distinctive feature of the building is its "S" shape, a very unique solution to massing in New York City. If viewed from a above, the foot of the "S" forms along Eleventh Avenue. Then the building slowly accrues mass as it literally steps back from the Avenue. The setbacks form generous terraces for two apartments on each floor. With each setback the building gently glides north before returning abruptly turning south at the top tier of the S-plan. The negative space provides two generous courtyards with distinct atmospheres dictated by the sun's movement throughout the day. The sunny southern courtyard will feature a pool while the shady north court will host quieter activities. The building is riot of textures. One wall facing the courtyard has a louver systems of shading, which also hides the vents for heating/cooling units. On another wall, tiny horizontal slats hide the vents and work their way into a pattern of olive green glass. It's an eclectic solution to say the least. On the smooth street-side facades, perforated screens covering the vents abut sheets of matte gray aluminum. TEN Arquitecto's project manager Angela DeRiggi compared the contrast between the street and courtyard facades to "cutting into a grapefruit where you have the rind on the outside and the delicate pieces on the inside." Perhaps one of the stranger elements that has come out of the land use process with the community is a large interior space meant to house, feed, and exercise police horses. Whether the Police Department will be able to afford the space is still being debated. Nevertheless, the space is there, and Mercedes House is probably only new development in New York that boasts practice ring for horses.
The satellite art fair Verge is ruffling a few painted feathers at galleries in Williamsburg. After the announcement last week that the Miami-based art fair was coming to the borough in an event coinciding with the Armory Show from March 3 to 6, several Billyburg gallery owners balked. The event, called Art Brooklyn, would conflict with Brooklyn Armory Gallery Hop, which Williamsburg Gallery Association has held the past seven years. Recently, the not for profit Best of Brooklyn helped hype the annual event through Brooklyn Tourism and smART Brooklyn, an initiative of the Borough President’s office promoting the borough’s gallery districts. “I’m opposed to smART joining forces with Verge. It was using its resources to help us and for whatever reason they chose to support Verge as opposed to Williamsburg,” said Tatyana Okshteyn, founding member of the gallery association and director of Black and White Gallery. “It will divert traffic and we were the ones who started that night seven years ago.” With the support of the DUMBO developer Two Trees and Brooklyn Tourism, Verge looks poised to garner a lion’s share of borough’s art crowd audience. Two Trees has shown itself to be a generous supporter of the arts, which doesn’t play badly with their own real estate interests in the area. Okshteyn said she has no problem with Two Trees' support. This makes sense to the former businesswoman turned art dealer. Her gripe is with Best of Brooklyn. "Why divert resources for a new comer who is an out of town entity, that will primarily have non-Brooklyn galleries," she asked. Borough President Marty Markowitz sees the art fair as win-win for all the gallery districts. In a statement he said, "It's exciting that Verge will present its first-ever Brooklyn art fair during Armory Week, when thousands of artists and art lovers from across the globe converge on our city." Last night, members of the gallery association aired their concerns with representatives from Verge and Best of Brooklyn at regularly scheduled association meeting. Alun Williams, director of Parker’s Box Gallery, said the Verge representative was receptive but non-committal to holding back on having events during the Armory Gallery Hop. “We hope they don’t have any significant event. There might be a late night party and that would be OK for us,” he said. Randall Harris, director of Figureworks Gallery, said that Williamsburg traditionally holds their own Armory afterparty. “I don’t have a concern with them doing an event, but I certainly didn’t want smART and the borough president to focus all their energies on Verge.” “Personally, I feel an art fair in Brooklyn is a bad idea," concluded Harris. "If Brooklyn is an innovator, I think they could come up with another idea, instead of yet another satellite art fair. Having said that, Verge has done this before. I can only wish them luck."