Monday, October 02, 2006

The Domino Plant's Big Weekend

This weekend, everyone seemed to notice the old Domino Sugar plant on the Williamsburg waterfront and the coming battle over the future of the site. We've written a bit about it both here and over at Curbed, and in fact, had just posted a little vid (click on the embed or on this link) with shots of the factory and Kent Avenue, plus music, on Saturday.

In any case, both the New York Times and Daily News ran stories about the plant, parts of which have been proposed for landmarking.

Says the Times:
The preservationists, supported by the local City Council member, David Yassky, want any development to conform with the factory, a hulking brick Romanesque Revival structure that dates to the late 19th century and recalls an era when New York was the nation’s leading sugar producer.

Mr. Yassky angered local preservationists last year by helping to override the landmark designation of a nearby warehouse. The Domino plant, he said, is more significant. “It’s an icon,” he said. “It’s a landmark in the popular sense of the word. When I talk to people in Queens or Manhattan about that part of my district, I say it’s right by the Domino Sugar factory, and they know where that is.”

Says the Daily News, in part:
The battle is the latest wrinkle for the storied sugar plant, whose signature red neon sign is visible from the Manhattan waterfront.

Built in 1884, the plant was once one of the mightiest in the world. By 1999, however, it was the scene of one of the longest-running strikes in recent memory before shutting its doors in 2004, laying off nearly 300 workers.

Some advocates insist that both preservation and affordable housing are possible. Housing activist Philip DePaolo, also with the Waterfront Preservation Alliance, said the community can demand both if leaders stand together.

"It's a divide-and-conquer tactic, just like with the rezoning," said DePaolo. "We're not going to play that game anymore. We want both."
It boggles the mind that Mr. Yassky is emerging as a champion of saving the Domino Plant, after his ugly role in the 184 Kent warehouse battle, but politics and land use battles are indeed full of odd and unpredictable twists and turns.

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