Posts tagged with "Williamsburg":

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Garrison Architects to Build Modular Pod Hotel in Williamsburg

With one location in Midtown East and another in Murray Hill, Pod Hotel is planning to build a third outpost in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Capital New York reported. The hip hotel chain has hired prominent prefab proponents Garrison Architects to design their newest location, which will be built using modular construction. According to Curbed, the proposed mixed-use development will be located on a 100,000 square foot site at the corner of Driggs Avenue and North 4th Street and include over 200 guest rooms, as well as retail, a restaurant and bar, roof garden, roof terrace bar and a series of courtyards. For a faster, greener, and cheaper construction process, Garrison Architects plans to piece together the 50-foot-tall hotel using pre-fabricated, 10-foot-by-30-foot components that contain two rooms and a corridor. If these pre-fab plans follow though, it would join two other recent Garrison projects, a disaster housing prototype on Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn and acclaimed lifeguard facilities out on Rockaway Beach in Queens.
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Could Chad Oppenheim’s Slab Hotel Rise Above the Williamsburg Bridge?

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.  
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Before SHoP’s Domino Sugar Plan, Brooklyn To See Urban Farming and Bikes

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.
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Domino Developer, Architects Discuss Project Details, Context of Brooklyn Waterfront Makeover

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.”
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A Touch of DUMBO in Williamsburg: Two Trees Envisions Office Space at the Domino Sugar Factory

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.
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EVENT> Domino, Old and New: Tonight!

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.
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Mexico City Design on the Menu at Brooklyn Taqueria

The restaurant La Superior in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is small place with very high standards. Not only does it have the best tacos and salsa in the five boroughs, but its low-cost décor features design elements by Mexican engineer/designer Ricardo Cid that are as exciting as the food. Cid, from Mexico City, claims he always wanted to be an artist but one that used “different and more complicated tools and calculations,” so he studied engineering at Mexico City's UNAM. The university gave Cid a research grant, and he used the money to move to New York City and begin an independent research practice focusing on “old and lost methods of Mexican manufacturing,” and adapting them to new materials when the old ones could not be found. On the wall behind the bar where Superior owner Felipe Mendez mixes his superb margaritas, Cid created a crystal and mirror menu board from a process called “rotulo dorado” found in Mexican cantinas and taquerias in Mexico in the 1940s. The process was originally used by local craftsman called rotulaeors to produce signs that display “menus, rules, and things to remember.” Here, Cid replicated the glass board process by tracing a letter or figure with appliquéd golden tape, many with saturated colors, metallic textures, and pearled finishes. Cid has also designed wallpaper for Superior that replicates an old method of Mexican printing, again from the 1940s, which he says “is not precisely block printing but a combination between screen printing and matching.” What drew me to Cid’s extraordinary work was a tournament bracket showing the teams competing in last month’s World Cup, looking like some kind of contemporary Aztec calendar with geometric shapes in forced perspective. The bright red plastic in this football piece is another application seen in street markets and cantinas in Mexico City, where Cid says “it’s pretty common to find entire walls of colorful volumes that make no sense, but call the attention of the eye in a very ‘Naco’ style.” Naco, he claims, means something like tasteless, but with style at the same time. It’s not precisely kitsch, but is meant to make things more beautiful. The La Superior space is not necessarily exciting as an interior, but if you look around, it offers fascinating hybridized design elements that are the best of young new Brooklyn design.
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Bombing and Boosting Domino

As the redevelopment of the massive Domino Sugar refinery on the WIlliamsburg waterfront continues to trudge through the city's public review process, what remains of the once mighty sweetener plant continues to deteriorate—or improve, depending on your attitudes towards street art. Following on the footsteps of the busted windows some feared would cause water damage to the main refinery building, now warring graffiti crews have set up shop on the bin building. A concrete addition from the 1960s that will be demolished to make way for some of Rafael Viñoly's 2,200 apartments, the bin building has now been bombed by no fewer than 5 graffiti writers. But it's not all bad news for the development, as it won conditional approval from Borough President Marty Markowitz on Friday, though some of those conditions are pretty steep if also in line with the demands of the local community board, which does not support the project. They include reduced bulk and density for the project; more and better subway service, especially on the L, for all those new residents; and room for a school, supermarket, and "possible artisan establishments" within the development.
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Rezoning Day

The rezoning of Coney Island may have takn up all the oxygen at the City Council Wednesday, but it was far from the only rezoning to pass, and far from the only important one. The council also approved a major downzoning of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, which, at 175 blocks, is not only huge, but important, as it was meant to protect the area from out-of-scale overdevelopment. It may be a little too late for that, but better late than never, we guess. Or maybe never again is more like it. The Flatbush neighborhood on the south side of Prospect Park got a similar treatment, receiving a massive 180 block downzoning again to protect against uncharacteristic development. Dumbo was rezoned, though in a particularly contextual manner, given its unique historic character, as were four contiguous neighborhoods in Queens. But perhaps most important was a citywide change to the inclusionary housing bonus. The chief mechanism by which the Bloomberg administration has promoted affordable housing, the inclusionary housing bonus was extended throughout the city beginning with the original rezoning of Williamsburg and Greenpoint in 2005. It had existed since 1987 in some of Manhattan's highest density areas, but it would later be deployed throughout the city because the administration liked how it married private development to the public needs of affordable housing. Essentially, the program offers developers additional density, usually in the neighborhood of 10-12 percent, if they make at least 20 percent of their units affordable. Because this means extra height, it is often worth it in the world of residential development. (At the same time, the program is voluntary, which has created complaints from numerous housing advocates, as some developers forgo the bonus because of construction costs, thereby depressing the number of affordable housing units created.) Yesterday's amendment creates a relatively new home ownership option--it had been deployed in discrete instances in the past--that would not only allow planners and developers to create affordable rentals in neighborhoods, but what are essentially affordable condos. The one downside? The price is regulated, so it would be near impossible to sell and reap much in the way of profits, one of the many reasons for buying a home (at least until recently). The program will likely be targeted at the lowest rungs of the economic ladder, though, where such things are less of a concern and it's more about getting out of the projects or substandard rental housing. The amendment also impacts the original program from 1987, which affects the city's highest density residential districts, the R10s. Currently, affordable units in those projects are ineligible for subsidies, but now they will no longer be exempt, thus paving the way for additional affordable units. (For the best explanation, including some really good visuals, check out the DCP's slideshow.)
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Real Estate Without Us (+Rendering)

There have been countless symbols for the end of the real estate boom, both literal--the collapse of Countrywide, the Fannie & Freddie takeover, the unfinished tract homes and decaying "For Sale" signs--and figurative--the Eastside crane accidents, the TVCC Fire. But we think this back-to-nature scene spotted over the weekend in Williamsburg takes the, uh, mortgage. Perhaps the only thing more amazing than a Red-Tailed Hawk alighting upon an I-Beam of a half-finished condo a few blocks from the Graham Avenue L-stop is the scene it induced: two Italian women straight out of Scorsese and two bike-hipsters straight out of Quicksilver, all gawking at the same raptor. It even stopped traffic on Manhattan Avenue. The perfect tableau of a neighborhood that never was and never will be again. The project is 123 Skillman Avenue, designed by Robert Scarano Architects. It had lain dormant for years--becoming affectionately known as Skillman Ave. Pool of Death--but city records show the site very much back in action after a million dollar sale in August. Combined with the fact that red-tailed hawks are a rather common sight in the city, what seemed like a Weismanian dream on a brisk, sunny Sunday turns out to be just another Brooklyn condo project plugging along come windy, fluorescent Monday. Still, it was pretty badass when he swooped down into the pit and nabbed a rodent snack. UPDATE: Robert Scarano kindly sent along the following rendering of the building planned for the site. He also joked that the hawk was his and meant to keep meddlesome bloggers away.