Domino Sugar factory addition approved

Addition to landmark factory applauded by Commissioners. After a contentious hearing in February 2008 over a plan by Community Preservation Corporation to build a five-story glass addition to the Domino Sugar Refinery building, Landmarks asked Community Preservation to amend its proposal. 5 CityLand 29 (Mar. 15, 2008). The addition to the Domino factory is only one component of Community Preservation’s plan, which also includes five 40-story residential towers, 120,000 sq.ft. of retail space, and publicly accessible open space on the East River.

On June 24, architect Fred Bland, of Beyer Blinder Belle, presented a new plan by Community Preservation, taking into account Landmark’s criticisms of the previous proposal. Instead of a five-story addition with prominent bulkheads, the new addition would be split asymmetrically into three and four stories. Bulkheads would be retracted into the addition, minimizing their visibility. Aesthetically, the new addition would be done in a “robust, industrial style,” as opposed to the previous “sleek” incarnation. Holes in the building’s fabric, once occupied by chutes, would host balconies made of glass and steel that would “preserve the scars of the building.” The revised plan would also retain the iconic 40-foot tall Domino Sugar sign.

Bland emphasized that the plan’s modification made for a sizeable reduction in usable floor area and that it made for the most expensive adaptive reuse he had ever been involved in. When asked by Commissioner Libby Ryan why the addition had not been reduced to two stories as Commissioners had suggested at the prior hearing, Bland responded that the size had been guided by their “dire financial situation.”

Chair Robert B. Tierney read into the record a letter from Council members Jessica Lappin and Diana Reyna urging approval, stating that they were “thrilled that the owners agreed to save the Domino sign.” Landmarks Commissioners received the revised plan enthusiastically, with Commissioner Roberta Brandes- Gratz stating that she was “staggered at how fabulously this has turned out” and compared it favorably to London’s Tate Modern. Chair Tierney called it a “brilliant adaptive reuse” and a “significantly improved plan.” Only Commissioner Margery Perlmutter expressed reservations, arguing that Community Preservation should have added to the height of the other residential towers, rather than build on the Refinery, and that “landmarks shouldn’t carry the weight of developer pressures.” Nonetheless, the motion to issue a certificate of appropriateness passed by a vote of seven to one.

LPC: 292-314 Kent St., The Domino Sugar Refinery, Brooklyn (COFA#08-4774) (June 24, 2008).

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.