Goodbye historic landmark, hello Lego set condos:
The latest Domino Sugar factory development plan passed the Council in a unanimous vote on Wednesday, opening the way for construction on the mega-development after years of heated debate over the project.
Developer Two Trees Management Company’s vision includes five towers that are supposed to hold thousands of residential units, office space, retail stores, and a school. The company put forward the plan despite the previous owner having obtained city approval for its proposal over activist opposition. Company officials said the unusual strategy it pursued after buying the stagnant site for $185 million a year and a half ago paid off.
“We took a big gamble, passing up an approved plan and going back through the political process because we wanted to build something innovative and worthy of the magnificent site and the dynamic neighborhood,” said Dave Lombino, Two Trees’ head of special projects. “Today’s approval is an endorsement of that vision and we can’t wait to break ground later this year. We hope Domino will become a model for thoughtful mixed-use development, with world-class design, affordable housing and new open space.”
The plan approved by the Council contains concessions Mayor DeBlasio had demanded from the company, including increasing the amount of so-called “affordable housing” from 500,000 square feet of the 2.28 million square feet of floor space in the luxury complex, to a total of 610,000 square feet, or 700 units of 2,300.
Two Trees officials say it will take between 10 to 15 years to build the vertical village at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge.
Sadly, DeBlasio and our local representatives such as Stephen Levin are willing to fight for affordable housing, but only at the expense of air rights. (Levin already disappointed everyone in Greenpoint by selling the air rights there.) The mayor’s “inclusive zoning” policy allows developers to do as they wish, provided they throw a bone to the city by providing more affordable units. Affordable housing is certainly an important issue that needs to be addressed, but so are air rights, tasteful zoning, and the desires of the community. With regard to developers, DeBlasio is becoming a one-issue mayor, and as Capital New York points out, he has a history of taking this approach:
In 2011, Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner co-chaired a birthday fund-raiser for de Blasio in advance of his run for mayor.
Bill de Blasio represented Park Slope as a city councilman from 2002 through 2009. His years in that position coincided with the rise of Brooklyn as we now know it: Hipster credibility undermined by Manhattan real estate prices, a deep-seated anxiety about gentrification and overdevelopment infused with arriviste NIMBYism. So when, in 2005, Bruce Ratner and the Pataki and Bloomberg administrations announced an agreement to build 16 skyscrapers and an arena at the nexus of Prospect Heights, Park Slope, Fort Greene, and Downtown Brooklyn, and when it then used the threat of eminent domain to pressure existing residents to sell or relocate, brownstone Brooklyn (or a good part of it) balked.
Residents took issue with the project’s reliance on eminent domain, the developer’s evasion of the city’s onerous public review process, the development’s sheer scope (8.6 million square feet), and its implications for traffic, parking, schools, sewage. Some even worried about the shadows it would cast.
After several members of Park Slope’s Community Board 6 voted against the project, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and de Blasio “purged” them.
“I support the project because I believe that we’re at a crisis in New York City when it comes to affordable housing. … And I think we’re in a crisis when it comes to economic development and providing real jobs for the community,” said de Blasio at a hearing in 2006. “But I also want to stress as much as I believe this project will help move us forward in terms of economic development and especially affordable housing.
Update: Curbed has more demolition photos here
On a somewhat related note, whoever is curating the photos over at Brooklyn Paper, sure doesn’t like DeBlasio. (The paper is owned by Murdoch these days.) This is definitely a pretty thinly-veiled attempt to include a bit of snark: