Council Member Levin concerned that project would burden existing infrastructure. On April 28, 2010, the City Planning Commission heard testimony on CPC Resources Inc.’s proposed 2.75 million sq.ft. mixed-used development at the landmarked Domino Sugar plant site in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The 11.2- acre project site encompasses the former Domino plant along the East River between Grand and South 5th Streets and an upland parcel bounded by Kent and Wythe Avenues, and South 3rd and 4th Streets. The proposal included building four towers on the Domino site and a fifth structure on the upland parcel. CPC Resources would demolish the Domino Bin building and relocate the “Domino Sugar” sign to a redeveloped Refinery Building. The buildings would feature a series of setbacks to reduce their bulk and create a tapered effect.
The project would create approximately 2,200 residential units, 30 percent of which would be affordable. It would also provide four acres of public waterfront space, 125,000 sq.ft. of retail space, 99,000 sq.ft. of office space, and more than 1,600 underground parking spaces located in four separate facilities. Four of the buildings would include ground-floor retail with residential units above. The tower built on the waterfront parcel’s northern portion would be used primarily as office space. The Refinery Building would contain more than 100,000 sq.ft. of community facility space.
CPC Resources proposed rezoning the Domino site from M3-1 to C6-2 and R8, and the upland parcel from M3-1 to R6. The developer also requested waivers to bulk, use, and parking regulations, and requested approval to transfer floor area from the Domino site to the upland parcel. CPC Resources agreed to record a restrictive declaration requiring the Commission’s approval for any changes to the proposal. 6 CityLand 5 (Feb. 15, 2010).
Brooklyn Community Board 1 opposed the project. CB 1 objected to the project’s overall density, citing concerns about potential shadows on Grand Ferry Park. The board was also concerned that the area’s existing infrastructure would not support such a large project. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz conditionally approved all of the applications except for a special permit to exceed the maximum number of parking spaces. Among his conditions, Markowitz asked CPC Resources to reduce the height of the building on the upland parcel, provide a supermarket on the site, and consider siting a public school in the Refinery Building.
At the hearing, residents and elected officials testifying in opposition expressed concerns about the project’s density and the burden it would place on the area’s transportation infrastructure. Council Member Stephen Levin, whose district includes the project, said CPC Resources should reduce the project’s density. Levin said the project should not have more than 1,600 residential units, but that it should still provide 660 affordable apartments, which would comprise nearly 40 percent of the units. Commissioner Irwin Cantor asked whether the developer would still be able to create an economically viable project, and Levin noted that the nearby Schaefer Landing development had agreed to provide an equivalent affordable housing component. Chair Amanda Burden pointed out that Schaefer Landing was a City-owned site and said the projects were not analogous.
Community activist Adam Perlmutter labeled the project a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and asked the Commission to modify the proposal. Perlmutter reiterated the call for more affordable housing, and he said both the City and the developer should fund remedial measures to subsidize additional bus and ferry service in the area.
Council Member Diana Reyna testified in support, pointing out that CPC Resources maintained a transparent and inclusive planning process. Reyna said the project’s 30 percent affordable housing component would create a “safety net” to help offset the displacement of low-income residents that has resulted from a surge in the development of market-rate housing in Greenpoint and Williamsburg.
The Commission has until June 8, 2010 to vote on the project.
CPC: Hearing on the New Domino (April 28, 2010).