A new waterfront development, complete with a public beach, massive rental towers, affordable housing and a starchitect designer, could be coming to Williamsburg.
When finished, it will create a continuous waterfront walk that will stretch for one mile from the beginning of Domino Park to the end of the new park. Developer Two Trees will have to go through the city’s rezoning process, ULURP, which they said they hope to complete over the next two years before the current administration leaves office.
Bjarke Ingels Group and James Corner Field Operations have been tapped for the project, which also includes a 47,000-square-foot YMCA with an Olympic-sized swimming pool, 30,000 square feet of retail space and 57,000 square feet of office space.
“We really wanted to continue our work in this neighborhood building parks,” said Jed Walentas, principal of Two Trees.
A combined six acres will be dedicated to publicly accessible space, with three of that designated for aquatic uses, including boating, fishing, tide pool exploration and, potentially, swimming in the future. This all will be privately owned and maintained, Walentas said.
The most striking feature of the public space is the circular esplanade, which will extend into the East River and help “increase resilience,” according to Lisa Tziona Switkin of James Corner Field Operations. Breakwaters, marshes and wetlands added to the site will help decrease problems from storm surges.
Further, the design builds upon the existing caissons that extend into the water, which will become “a series of nature trails,” she said.
The project offers the possibility to “reimagine the waterfront as a living and lively urban and natural habitat,” said Ingels, who spoke to journalists from Copenhagen this morning. BIG and James Corner Field Operations together designed the master plan for the project. James Corner Field Operations, known for its role in the influential High Line in Manhattan, is designing all the outdoor space, and BIG is designing the towers.
Copenhagen-born Ingels, who recently moved his home and office to Dumbo, is known for his innovative and high-profile projects, including Google’s North Bayshore campus and VIA 57 West in Manhattan. In April, his firm released a proposal for the reconstruction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. So far the company has not completed a project in Brooklyn, although it’s also designing an apartment building at 175 3rd Street in Gowanus.
Developments by internationally recognized designers of Ingels’ stature are rare in Brooklyn; recent examples include Studio Gang, which designed a firehouse in Brownsville and Downtown Brooklyn skyscraper 11 Hoyt.
The two towers will include a combined 1,000 rental apartments (250 of which will be affordable under the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program). Based on renderings, the buildings will slope up from wider bases to thinner tops, and frame the view from the mostly low-rise 19th century streetscape to the waterfront. One of the towers will be approximately 650 feet high while the other will rise about 600 feet.
Right next to the massive Domino development, also developed by Two Trees, the properties include empty fields that were previously home to tanks used to store oil and that have already been decontaminated. Until recently owned by ConEd, the lots are sandwiched between a New York Power Authority natural gas power plant to the east, apartment buildings to the north, and Grand Ferry Park and Domino Park to the south. Their addresses are 87 River Street, 105 River Street, and a waterfront sliver with no address adjacent to 49 River Street.
In July, Two Trees sought public opinion in a series of invitation-only meetings about plans for the park. Some wish-list items included “a peaceful spot to relax,” “access to water,” and “boat and kayak access,” one of the participants told Brownstoner at the time. Some locals have previously said they oppose a rezoning of the former ConEd property.
The sale on the three lots closed yesterday, officials for Two Trees said, for a combined price of $150 million. In addition to the rezoning, both the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Army Core of Engineers will have to approve all work happening in the water.
[Renderings by James Corner Field Operations and Bjarke Ingels Group via Two Trees Management]
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