Two City Council subcommittees unanimously approved plans to redevelop the landmark refinery in Williamsburg. The vote comes after a compromise was reached between the developers and dissenting local representatives.
The old Domino Sugar refinery property will be converted into 2,200 housing units, including 660 units of affordable housing, as well as a 4-acre park and several retail outlets.
In the compromise approved today, the planned 40-story residential towers were lowered to 34 stories and a shuttle bus will be instated between the site and the Marcy Avenue train station.
In the current plan, the Domino refinery building itself, which is an official city landmark, will be gutted and refitted with residential units. The other buildings on the site will be demolished to make room for additional residential buildings, including the two 34-story towers, and a waterfront esplanade with retail outlets and parks.
Opposition to the development was lead by Councilman Steve Levin of Williamsburg, who said the development would be too expensive for a crowded district with already-packed subways and buses. He had advocated for a smaller development, but Domino Corporation called this economically unfeasible, as the factory’s landmark status increases the cost of development.
"The community will have a project that will address the needs of the neighborhood," Levin said after the Land Use Committee voted on the project, thanking Mayor Bloomberg and others who helped negotiate the compromise. "I look forward to continue working with [The Community Preservation Corporation Resources] to ensure that all of the community's needs are addressed as the project is built and inhabited."
Other changes made under the compromise include: a community advisory board will be created to oversee development and any further changes to the development must be approved by the land use review process.
The American Sugar Refining Company sold the property in 2004 to Refinery LLC, a company composed of the Community Preservation Corporation Resources and a private developer called the Katan Group. In the six years since, protests to the redevelopment have slowed the company’s plans.
Opponents of the project say that the Domino Sugar plant is a landmark and important part of the NYC skyline, and should not be changed. For example, a community group called Save Domino, founded in 2007 by community resident Stephanie Eisenberg, wanted landmark status extended to other buildings on the factory site. Currently, only the refinery itself is a landmark.
Brooklyn’s Community Board 1 voted against the redevelopment 23-12 in March, prompting the current compromised version. This vote was not an official rejection, but merely an advisory to Borough President Marty Markowitz, who voted in favor of the redevelopment in April.
Then Mayor Bloomberg stepped in to help broker a compromise in this controversial development debate, which lead to the two City Council committees' unanimous approval today.
If approved by the City Council in July, construction on the site will begin in 2011 and is expected to take 10 years.