Developer testified to the great cost of converting buildings to housing. On June 26, 2007, Landmarks held its first hearing on the potential designation of three 1884 buildings within the former Domino Sugar Processing Plant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The plan received overwhelming support.
Among those in support included representatives from the development team that plans to convert the plant to a mixed-use complex containing 2,200 units of housing, 660 of which would be reserved for affordable housing.
Michael Lappin from the Community Preservation Corporation, and the project’s architect and contractor, testified that the buildings posed a greater challenge to convert than many other loft buildings. The buildings’ structural support rests on brittle cast-iron columns that no longer provide sufficient support for the original structure. If the construction team were to retrofit the original beams, 50 percent of the interior space would be lost to a new support system. The only remaining option would be to gut the interior, maintaining only the facade.
Other speakers asked Landmarks to consider additional buildings within the Domino Sugar complex, and one speaker asked the City to save the neon yellow Domino Sugar sign that sits on a 1960s plant building not subject to designation.
Representatives from the Landmarks Conservancy, the Municipal Art Society and the Victorian Society of America all testified in support, pointing out that the National Trust for Historic Preservation recently named Brooklyn’s industrial waterfront as one of the 11 most endangered places in the nation due predominantly to the push to develop the Williamsburg and Greenpoint waterfront.
Landmarks closed the hearing without additional comment and has yet to set a date for its vote.
LPC: Former Domino Sugar Processing Plant, 293 Kent Avenue (LP-2267) (June 26, 2007).