Domino Rezoning

The Domino Sugar Refinery is located on Kent Avenue between Grand Street and South 6th Street. For over 150 years, Domino was an industrial anchor for the Williamsburg community. In 2004, the property was sold to a partnership consisting of developer Isaac Katan and Community Preservation Corporation Resources (CPCR). CPCR is the for-profit development of the Community Preservation Corporation, a non-profit devoted to financing affordable housing in New York State.

CPCR and its investment partners propose to redevelop the Domino site into a mixed-use residential/commercial/office/community facility development. The proposed project – dubbed New Domino by the developers – would provide the following:

* Up to 2,400 units of housing
* 660 units of affordable housing (30%)
* 4 acres of publicly-accessible open space, primarily as part of a waterfront esplanade
* 1,700 parking spaces
* 120,000 square feet of retail space, including a 30,000 sf supermarket
* 140,000 sf of community facility, much of which could be used as a public school
* 100,000 sf of office space in a series of 10 to 30-story towers at the north end of the site
* Preservation of the main Domino refinery building, a designated NYC landmark
* A job training program for local residents

NAG supports the affordable housing, preservation, job training and open space aspects of New Domino. But we do not support the overall project at the current density levels. The overall size of the development (2,200 to 2,400 units, or 6,000 to 7,000 new residents) will further tax an already overburdened transit and transportation infrastructure. The proposed open space, welcome as it is, does not meet the minimum needs of the community; in fact, if New Domino is built as proposed, Williamsburg will have less open space person than it currently does. Given that we already rank near the bottom in terms of per capita open space in New York City, this is simply unacceptable. To add insult to injury, New Domino’s office towers would put Grand Ferry Park – the only public park on the Southside – into shadow for much of the year.

In 2005, the City rezoned much of the Williamsburg/Greenpoint waterfront. The results of that rezoning can be seen on both sides of Kent Avenue in projects like Northside Piers, the Edge, 80 Metropolitan and North8. Eventually, this scale of development will line both sides of Kent Avenue and West Street from Metropolitan Avenue to Commercial Street. Remarkably, New Domino wants to increase the density of their project over and above the levels of the 2005 rezoning. NAG believes that this is bad for Williamsburg.

In place of the New Domino, NAG proposes a Better Domino, consisting of:

* An overall zoning envelope not to exceed the 2005 waterfront zoning
* A maximum of 1,650 total residential units
* A minimum of 660 units of affordable housing (40%)
* 4 acres of publicly-accessible open space, primarily as part of a waterfront esplanade
* Transformation of three additional blocks of City-owned waterfront property immediately south of Domino as a public park
* A maximum of 660 parking spaces
* A 5,000 square-foot limit on all retail (except the supermarket)
* A reduction in the height of office towers so as to eliminate the shadow impact on Grand Ferry Park
* Limiting the height of buildings on the upland site to 7 stories
* A job training program for local residents
* Inclusion of artisanal or light manufacturing space within the overall scope of the project

NAG’s Better Domino is in line with the City’s 2005 waterfront zoning in terms of number of residents (density) and building height. Better Domino would retain the 660 units of affordable housing and have a significantly smaller (but not negligible) impact on transit, traffic and transportation. Better Domino would provide a more neighborhood-friendly scale of retail development. Better Domino would eliminate unnecessary shadow impacts on Grand Ferry Park and neighboring residents. Better Domino would provide not only job training but better paying jobs for local residents over the long term.

NAG believes that our neighborhood deserves affordable housing, better open space, better jobs, better development and better growth. We deserve a Better Domino.

For more on NAG’s Domino position, click here.