Community and preservationists comment on plan to construct 2.6 million sq.ft. of housing on former factory site. On July 31, 2007, City Planning held a public hearing on the draft scope of an environmental impact statement for the proposed transformation of the Domino Sugar Refinery into a large mixed-use development with 2.64 million sq.ft. of residential space, 120,000 sq.ft. of retail space, 100,000 sq.ft. of community facility space, and 1,450 below grade accessory parking spaces. The developer, Refinery Management LLC, a joint venture made up of Katan Group LLC and the Community Preservation Corporation, propose to make 30 percent of the residential space, or 660 units, affordable housing.
The site is located on the Brooklyn waterfront directly north of the Williamsburg Bridge. The developer plans to demolish most of the buildings on the site to make way for the new development. The plan would, however, adaptively reuse the Refinery building. Comprised of the Filter, Pan, and Finishing Houses, the Refinery is currently under consideration for landmark status. On June 26, 2007, Landmarks held a public hearing on the designation but has not yet set a date for a vote. 4 CityLand 95 (July 15, 2007). If designated, Landmarks would need to approve any construction plan for the designated buildings.
The plan calls for a change in zoning from heavy manufacturing (M3-1) to residential (R8 and R6) with a commercial overlay (C2-4). The Refinery building would be rezoned to a commercial district (C6-2) to allow a range of residential, commercial, and community uses. The proposal would also change the zoning on 39 nearby lots not controlled by the developer (from M3-1 to M1-2) to allow current manufacturing uses to remain but to limit future uses to those compatible with the new residential neighbors. The plan also includes several special permits and an application to expand the inclusionary housing program to cover the project.
At the hearing, representatives from industrial advocacy organizations urged that the environmental review carefully consider the effect of the rezoning on the current manufacturing businesses in the area. Community representatives commended the affordable housing aspect of the project. Father Richard J. Beuther, representing a Catholic church two blocks from the site, claimed that the area’s gentrification reduced his congregation, which he described as predominently Spanish speaking working poor, from over 1,700 in 1999 to only 600. Preservationists urged Planning to carefully analyze the industrial history of the site and argued for a comprehensive historical analysis before work begins.
City Planning closed the comment period on August 10, 2007.
Hearing on Domino Sugar Rezoning, Draft Scope of Work (July 31, 2007).