Following a behind the scenes deal between Mayor de Blasio and Two Trees Management, the New York City Planning Commission unanimously voted on March 5th to approve special permits and a zoning text amendment to allow the redevelopment of the Domino Sugar Refinery into a 2,928,429 sq. ft. mixed-use property.
Two Trees purchased the Domino site from Community Preservation Corporation in 2012 for $185 million after its failed attempts to redevelop the waterfront property. Earlier this year, Jed Walentas of Two Trees presented a plan which promised to build 660 units of affordable housing and noted that the previous developers had only committed to build the equivalent number of units of affordable housing in an agreement that was approved by the City.
Walentas plans to take advantage of property tax breaks using an incentive known as 421a. The 421a program is meant to promote residential development on underutilized or unused land and requires that 20-percent of the units be affordable housing mixed-in with market rate housing. Two Trees wants to exempt the waterfront section of the development from 421a, so that they can maximize waterfront profits.
Under the new agreement, the developer will provide an additional 110,000 square feet of affordable housing as part of the project, for a total of 537,000 square feet of affordable housing. Of this total allocated to affordable housing, 50,000 sq. ft. will be made available to “moderate” incomes, rather than lower incomes. The new agreement signifies an increase of affordable housing from 660 units to 700 units out of over 2,200 total units of housing. Unlike prior proposals, all of those units will be permanently affordable.
“We set out from Day One to get the best possible value for the public. This partnership delivers on that commitment,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen. “We are securing more of the affordable housing families in Williamsburg need, and we are doing it by working together. This agreement is a win for all sides, and it shows that we can ensure the public’s needs are met, while also being responsive to the private sector’s objectives. I am profoundly thankful to City Planning Chairman Carl Weisbrod and our combined teams for their work reaching this outcome.”
“We are so proud and pleased with what we’ve accomplished here. This won’t just be an ordinary development–it will be part of an integrated neighborhood that brings people of every income level together. We are proud to work with Mayor de Blasio’s team and the City Council to get this project across the finish line, get shovels in the ground, and deliver the housing and jobs this city needs. We hope this can become a model for what we can all achieve together in the years ahead,” said Jed Walentas of Two Trees Management.
The project also includes approximately 480,000 sq. ft. of office space, 110,000 sq. ft. of retail space, 143,000 sq. ft. of community facility space, including a school, and a 4.8 acre publicly accessible open space along the waterfront.
The project’s architect is SHoP Architects. Work on the first building will begin in December 2014.
Renderings courtesy of SHoP