Big baby Jed Walentas — who’s Daddy built DUMBO — threatens to revert to hated Domino Sugar plan

Jed Walentas of Two Trees Management, credit Daly News

Jed Walentas of Two Trees Management playing with his blocks, credit Daily News

Turns out Jed doesn’t like de Blasio’s insistence on creating more affordable housing in Williamsburg. Like any pampered man-child, he’s decided to throw a temper tantrum should his Domino Sugar rezoning requests fail to be approved:

The mayor’s administration is insisting that the developer add even more space for affordable housing and, as a result, fewer market-rate apartments, in exchange for the zoning changes that Mr. Walentas needs to build his towers with spectacular views of Midtown Manhattan.

Mr. Walentas is balking, and has even threatened to revert to the older, unpopular plan.

“I’d very much like to work this out with them,” Mr. Walentas said on Thursday. “But what they’re currently asking for is not workable.”

With the New York Planning Commission set to vote on the project on Wednesday, Domino Sugar has become a test of the mayor’s resolve to “reset” the city’s relationship with developers and extract more concessions from them, with a goal of building or preserving 200,000 units of affordable housing.

Housing activists, who supported Mr. de Blasio, and the city’s powerful real estate industry, which is already jittery over the new mayor’s populist rhetoric, are closely watching the fate of Domino.

“This is curtains up on the first act of the real-estate drama for the new administration,” said John H. Mollenkopf, director of City University’s Center for Urban Research.

The Brooklyn Paper noted his “my way or the highway” approach to the project back in November:

Walentas… told neighbors he hopes to get the greenlight for his proposal to build skyscraping edifices with eye-catching cutouts in the middle, but if that falls through he will revive the city-approved plan by the past owner Community Preservation Corporation Resources, which call for shorter more monolithic towers.

“We spent $185 million to purchase this site, and we’re going to get a return on our investment,” Walentas said on Thursday in his first meeting with Williamsburgers to discuss the future of Domino.

Neighbors, including many activists who battled the previous Domino development plan, greeted the Two Trees proposal with snark, derision, and anger, criticizing the project for its potential impact on transit, its light-blocking scale, and what they described as Walentas’s “my way or the highway” attitude…

“He comes across like Jesse Eisenberg with his tennis shoes and his hoodie, but he’s a total capitalist,” said activist Susan Pellegrino.

Wah! It’s tough not getting your way, especially if you’re a spoiled rich kid who’s daddy owns half the city.

The rezoning that Walentas desires would entail building taller towers – so we’re likely to get Levined — but hopefully de Blasio will be tough on subsidies, which come at the expense of taxpayers:

Like most developers, Mr. Walentas is expecting to get subsidies and tax breaks from city and state housing programs for providing affordable housing, and the availability of those incentives could become an issue in talks between the two sides.

Martin Dunn, president of Dunn Development, an affordable housing developer, said the negotiations were being closely watched. Unlike most in his field, Mr. Dunn says the city has been too generous in granting subsidies for affordable housing and should make developers provide it with less help from taxpayers, a belief the new mayor shares.

Here’s the hated plan:

SUB-Y-Domino-2-articleLarge

 

Comments

  1. This is a very poorly informed and immaturely written post. Here is my attempt to add some nuance.

    First, Two Trees are already offering to provide more affordable units than currently required in exchange for a zoning variance. The housing authority is getting greedy here it seems, and it may bite them in the ass as there is an already approved plan that offers far less affordable units that could be built tomorrow if the developer so chooses. Second, the community has shown that they GREATLY prefer the new plan (the one misleadingly labeled above as “hated plan”) over the previous plan. The new plan offers a larger waterfront park with improved public access, a school, office space, and 220 more affordable units than the previous (already improved) plan. Third, whats with all of this cry baby name calling? Two Trees is a business, not a charity, and Jed Walentas is not the only person that makes money if this project is profitable. If increasing the area of affordable units lowers prospective revenue to a point that the project is no longer financially viable, they will not build it, they will build the more profitable alternative. You can’t argue with math.

    The housing authority should not be making a stand on a project that began this process during the previous administration under a different set of negotiations and rules. They should be trying to establish this new precedent with project that doesn’t have an easily resorted to, and much aligned, backup plan. One of the plans will get built. I hope its the newer one that offers 150% more affordable housing and other improved public amenities.

    • The previous plan is horrible, most of the people that supported it were from a church that received donations from the developer. Council member Diana Reyna also supported the old plan for some reason – maybe paid off as well?

      Ideally we would get a museum and parkland instead of many super towers but if one of the 2 plans has to go through the Jed Walentas plan is 100x better than the old plan

  2. Is “dtf” Two Trees spokeman David Lombino?

    Regardless, all of the recent coverage on this is missing the point that the core problem here is the need for BINDING and more COMPREHENSIVE agreements for affordable housing and community benefits. The 2010 project was entirely predicated on a promise of 660 units of affordable housing affordable to a spectrum of incomes including very low 30% AMI, and lots of two and three bedroom units. Sadly that promise was not BINDING and was instead memorialized as a memo of understanding. But the public and the City government clearly thought that’s what was achieved in exchange for the zoning change. Now Mr. Walentas wants to weaken the affordable housing program in comparison to the 2010 plan and uses the fact that that plan was not BINDING as blackmail to win permission for his taller towers and extra density. The community groups that pushed for the 2010 plan because of its affordable housing are all demanding that Two Trees improve its affordable housing proposals and also contribute to alleviating the impact that the development will have on the community by contributing to anti-displacement organizing work and an open space fund among other community benefits. But Two Trees’ PR has skillfully framed what’s happening now as “De Blasio” injecting himself into the debate, when really what is happening is the City Planning Commission is seeking to serve the community’s wishes and win a better plan for the public. If you want to find out what’s really happening with this development visit http://www.thedominoeffectmovie.com/blog

  3. james schneider says:

    Poorly written article. Amateurish.

    Walentas needs to make the economics work here. With more affordable units, it won’t work. He’s offering more affordable units than what’s necessary. He’s a profit motivated developer. This is a capitalistic society. DeBlasio squeezing him without realizing that the numbers in any project need to work for it to make sense.

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