Friday, March 21, 2014

City Gives Thumbs-up to $1.5 Billion Domino Sugar Project

Construction and development projects in NYC always involve a fair share of drama, and the Domino Sugar development is no exception. Now, in the wake of a deal cut by Mayor Bill de Blasio for more affordable housing, the City Planning Commission has unanimously approved the application for Two Trees Management 's 3.3 million-square-foot project on the Williamsburg waterfront.

The shuttered factory will soon be coming back to life with a massive makeover. Two Trees's $1.5 billion-dollar vision for the the waterfront site calls for massively tall and architecturally bold skyscrapers that would redefine Brooklyn’s skyline.

The iconic landmark of Brooklyn’s industrial past is the centerpiece of an 11-acre mega project, creating a new neighborhood with 2,394 apartments, a public school and 530,000 sq ft of offices.

Construction is expected to late this year, bringing over 3,500 jobs to the area.

The Domino site is possibly the most prominent piece of real estate in Brooklyn. It sits at the dead center of the Manhattan facing waterfront, and it is what drivers on the FDR Drive see. This has the opportunity to be what new Brooklyn says to the world.

Eye-popping apartment buildings 55 stories and higher designed by SHoP Architects are planned — including one shaped like a giant doughnut and a pair of needle-thin towers connected by a three-story sky bridge.

With one mega-development, Two Trees Management owner, Jed Walentas plans do to the sleepy section of industrial waterfront what his father did in DUMBO one building at a time: construct a bustling neighborhood where people will want to live, work, and play.

Instead of refurbishing old warehouses in piecemeal fashion like his dad David, or sticking to Domino’s original monolithic development blueprint, Walentas wants to build a “family” of post-modern towers clustered around the landmarked refinery.

When Two Trees plunked down $185 million to buy the Domino Sugar Factory development site last summer, the already-approved plans for four-towers and 2,200 apartments were universally hated. The hulking buildings were bland and boxy, so Two Trees went to SHoP Architects and asked them to make it better.

Click to enlarge
The new high-rises dreamt up by the architects of Barclays Center are far taller, and undoubtedly more eye-catching than the original Domino design.

One tower is shaped like a giant zero, another balances apartments atop offices with a hole in the middle, a third features terraced residences stacked along Kent Avenue, and the southernmost edifice is a pair of pencil-thin towers connected by a bridge that could become Brooklyn’s tallest structure at 598 feet and 60 stories.

The century-old factory will retain its signature 40-foot high Domino Sugar sign. Mom-and-pop stores will fill retail spaces in the mini-neighborhood.

 “No Duane Reades and no Starbucks,” Walentas said.

Two Trees plans five acres of parks with fun features like a floating swimming pool in the East River, a removable winter ice-skating rink like in Bryant Park, a waterfront beer garden and a kayak and canoe launch.

To create easier access to the waterfront, River Street, will be extended through the middle of the property.

Astonishing apartment buildings 55 stories tall or higher designed by SHoP Architects are also planned — including one shaped like a giant donut and a pair of needle-thin towers connected by a three-story sky bridge.

Of the 2,284 rental apartments, 700 units have now been set aside as affordable housing. Thirty percent of the apartments on the site would be set aside for low- and moderate-income families.

The complete 3.3 million-square-foot mega-project, which will take 10 years to build, still requires City Council approval, which will come up for a vote in May.

Two Trees expects to get permission to proceed by year’s end and start construction early next year, with the first building opening in 2016 - an apartment house with 300 of its 600 units set aside as affordable.

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