Tuesday, July 24, 2007

PM Update: Details About 'New Domino' in the Shadow of the Old

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The Community Preservation Corportation, which will redevelop the old Domino Sugar plant in Williamsburg, held a press event earlier today to detail its plans for the site. If it is approved, the development would be a massive $1.2-$1.3 billion undertaking that would take 6-8 years to complete. It would be the largest development on the Williamsburg-Greenpoint waterfront and one that is likely to generate considerable debate, given the 3,000-4,000 new residents it would include and the 30-40 story height of many of the buildings.

If the approval process goes smoothly, the developer hopes to start construction in late 2008 or early 2009, which would mean that it would be 2017 or so before the entire development is finished. The "New Domino," as it is being called, would have 2,200 apartments, 660 of which would be categorized as affordable. CPC's Michael Lappin, who did the heavy lifting during the presentation talked at great length about the affordable housing, noting that the developers will work on that part of the phased project first. The affordable units would be distributed by lottery, with half being reserved for people currently living in the area covered by Community Board 1. Development would start on the southern part of the site

"This is an important site to the community and can be an important asset if it is done right," Mr. Lappin said.

The main Domino plant building would be preserved, but the developer wants to add floors to the building, which could be controversial in the context of landmarking it. In addition, there could be controversy over plans to demolish another historic structure on the site that is not up for landmarking.

The site totals 11.2 acres; 4 acres would be set aside for open space. Residential towers designed by Rafael Vinoly would be as tall as 30 and 40 stories. (Assuming the developers get the rezoning they are seeking.) The development would include 120,000 square feet of retail space and 100,000 square feet of "community space."

The developer acknowledged there will be "a transportation issue" with 3,000-4,000 new residents in a part of Williamsburg that is fairly distant from the subway. Mr. Lappin said that the project will include a pier for New York Water Taxi and jitney service to the subway. (The issue of subway lines that are already crowded was not addressed.)

The first presentation to the Planning Commission about the project is on July 31, and there is much more to come on the subject. We'll have a slideshow of photos from the plant grounds, which we'd never be on before, tomorrow. If you're interested in some of the contentious management-labor history of the plant back when it was open, check out this old story in the Village Voice. Domino was not quite a sweet and happy place back in the day.

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