Last week, Two Trees filed a second round of building permits for its megadevelopment at the Domino Sugar Refinery. The building at 320 Kent Avenue will rise 36 stories and stand 401 feet tall — even larger than the first 35-story tower planned at 2 Grand Street.
The 470,106-square-foot complex will encompass 392 units split among 428,801 square feet. The first three floors will house 41,801 square feet of commercial space, which includes retail on the ground floor and office space on the second and third floors, according to Schedule A filings.
Ismael Levya is the architect of record, but SHoP Architects is designing the project. Although we’re not sure how many affordable apartments will be in this building, the city pushed Two Trees to build 700 affordable units out of 2,300 total planned for the development.
According to NY YIMBY, whose story we did not see until after this was written, 320 Kent Avenue is Building D. The above photo shows site C next to the landmarked refinery building and site E in front of it, now a temporary park. Click through to the jump to see a rendering of the building.
Update: A rep from Two Trees tells us that the permits don’t indicate the order of actual groundbreaking and construction, and are for infrastructure work like water, sewer, and utility connections on all the waterfront sites.
Two Trees’ development plan for the Domino Sugar Refinery is one step closer to reality today with the Landmark Preservation Commission’s 7-0 vote to approve a design for adaptive reuse of the landmarked 1880s factory. The commissioners greenlighted the Walentas’ plans to convert the factory into office space with a four-story glass addition on the roof and a three-story addition on the back side of the building.
Despite their previous complaints about the additions, the LPC ultimately supported the design shown in this rendering by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects. The landmarked main factory is the only part of the Domino complex on Kent Avenue that will not be demolished to make way for the $1,500,000,000 development project. When construction finishes, the Domino site will have 2,200 apartments, retail and 631,000 square feet of office space.
Provocative and award-winning artist Kara Walker will transform the Domino Sugar factory into a massive art installation in May, Gothamist reported. Arts nonprofit Creative Time has released details about the project, which will “respond to both the building and its history, exploring a radical range of subject matter and marking a major departure from her practice to date,” according to its website.
Titled “A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby,” the 90,000-square-foot installation will pay “homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World.” Last spring, Creative Time took over Domino to host its spring gala. Creative Time sent Gothamist the images above to illustrate her inspiration for the work.
Kara Walker Is Creating an Installation Inside Domino Sugar Refinery [Gothamist]
Image by Creative Time via Gothamist
Two Trees’ Domino proposal has cleared another level of the land use review process. On the last day of the year, Tuesday, outgoing Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz approved the plan along with a few minor modifications, such as variances for zoning, commercial space and affordable housing.
“We are extremely grateful for Borough President Markowitz’s support for the Domino Sugar project over the past year and approval of our plans this week,” said Two Trees’ Jed Walentas in an emailed statement. “We look forward to working with new Borough President Eric Adams and Brooklyn leaders over the next few years to bring more affordable housing, local jobs, and much needed public open space to South Williamsburg.”
Next up, Domino will need approval from the City Planning Commission and the City Council to get full ULURP certification.
Domino Coverage [Brownstoner]
Rendering by SHoP Architects
Some of the members of the Landmarks Preservation Commission didn’t like the proposed glass addition atop the landmarked 1880s Domino Sugar Refinery factory at Tuesday’s public hearing, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported. However, the commissioners support Two Trees’ plan to convert the factory into office space. The rendering by architects Beyer Blinder Belle, above, shows a four-story, glass-covered addition facing the East River; there is a three-story addition on the other side of the property.
The plan calls for the iconic yellow Domino Sugar sign to sit on top of the building, along with smaller versions of the sign above street-level entrances. Commissioners objected to the “height and massing” of the addition, according to the Eagle. Confusingly, a previous proposal from the site’s former developers already approved by Landmarks also included a four-story glass addition on top of the building, according to the Eagle.
“The proposal before the Commission today contains more square footage than the prior approval due to the retention of the building’s core and a second rooftop addition,” said the Historic Districts Council’s Nadezhda Williams. But not everyone hated it: Commission chair Robert Tierney called the design “extremely appropriate and impressive,” Curbed reported. The adaptive reuse of the red brick factory at 292-314 Kent Avenue is just a small part of Two Trees’ $1,500,000,000 development plan for the Domino site, which also includes retail, a new office building, and high-rise residential buildings with 2,200 apartments.
The City Planning Commission is expected to certify Two Trees’ plans for the Domino Sugar refinery this afternoon, Crain’s reports. Developer Jed Walentas of Two Trees scrapped the ULURP-approved plans for the site, which were originally drawn up by previous developer CPC Resources. The new SHoP-designed proposal promises an overhaul of the landmarked Domino building and four new buildings with 2,300,000 square feet of residential space, 500,000 square feet of offices and 70,000 square feet of retail. Once City Planning certifies the plan, it will still have to undergo a new ULURP process with several levels of public review. Demolition started on some of the smaller buildings in the complex earlier this month, and Two Trees told Crain’s they hope to break ground on the development in late 2014.
Starting Gun Looms for Domino Sugar [Crain’s]
A tall construction fence went up around the Domino Sugar Factory site in Williamsburg last week and demo at the northern end of the site has begun. Last week, Two Trees updated community leaders via a letter and put up a website where it will post updates about the project every two weeks.
The Refinery building, the historic brick structure that is topped by the iconic Domino sign, was landmarked in 2007 and is not at risk of being torn down. DOB approved demo permits for buildings at 2 Grand Street and 314 Kent Avenue in September. In August, as reported, Two Trees said demo could start as early as September.
The creation of a large mixed-use conversion envisioned by former owners CPC was approved back in 2010; Two Trees bought the 11-acre site back in October of 2012 and in March released its $1.5 billion plan for the waterfront property, which features 2,284 apartments and 631,240 square feet of office space. The plan still needs to go through the uniform land use review procedure (ULURP).
Opponents of the project have said Domino should finish the land review process before beginning any demo and wondered why the demo filings say “the scope of work does not require related asbestos abatement as defined in the regulations of the NYC DEP” when a 2010 environmental impact study said that asbestos was found “throughout the facility” and that an “additional survey and abatement would be required to remove all asbestos-containing materials prior to demolition of the buildings and redevelopment of the project site.”
The non-landmarked buildings on this site are going to come down one way or another because of the 2010 approval. The asbestos abatement of the entire site took six months and was completed in September.
Developer Isaac Katan may soon be out of the picture when it comes to the redevelopment of the Domino Sugar complex in Williamsburg, according to a story in yesterday’s New York Observer: “The developer of the Domino Sugar Factory failed to receive an injunction in State Supreme Court Tuesday to block its partner from recapitalizing the proposed $1.5 billion project. The decision appeared to clear the way for the Community Preservation Corporation [CPC], a joint owner of the site, to proceed with a deal to hand the majority stake to the project’s senior lender, Pacific Coast Capital Partners, LLC. Isaac Katan, who has been a fifty-fifty partner with CPC in the 11-acre former factory, had launched the suit in March seeking an injunction on the restructuring deal because it would significantly dilute both his and CPC’s interest in the project, which sits along the Brooklyn waterfront in Williamsburg.” CPC and Katan have made the news recently for being at odds with each other over plans for the redevelopment of the huge, waterfront property. Katan vows to fight on, so Williamsburg’s biggest would-be development may be on ice for quite a time to come.
Court Swats Down Lawsuit At Domino Factory Paving Way For Ownership Shakeup [NYO]
Photo by Dan Nguyen
Following the recent news that the would-be developers of the massive Domino Sugar plant on the Williamsburg waterfront were looking to sell the site, there came word that one half of the development team, the Katan Group, had filed suit against the other developer, CPC Resources, alleging financial mismanagement. Now the latest, according to the Real Deal, is that a state Supreme Court judge says she will rule on Katan’s injunction request by May 4th. Here is the very happy legal back-and-forth between the two sides:
“We’re focusing on the fact that they’re taking our ownership interests and giving it away,” Morrison Cohen attorney Y. David Scharf who represents Katan Group, told Judge Eileen Bransten at the hearing. The company also claims it has found a “white knight” investor that would buy the site on the same terms as the proposed CPC sale back to the bank, according to lawyers. But, attorney Mark Walfish of Katsky Korins, representing CPC, launched a blistering array of charges against Katan, saying the injunction would result in a foreclosure against the project. He also said that CPC, as managing member of the entity that controls the project, only has the obligation to consult with Katan, and has the full authority to make final decisions on the project. “There is nothing we are doing that eviscerates their rights,” he told the court.
The Katan Group claims it has had multiple and very high offers from investors looking to buy the site, but that CPC isn’t playing ball with them. Construction on Domino wasn’t supposed to start very soon (if memory serves, perhaps by next year), but the legal squabble and possible sale makes us think the development process is going to take even longer to begin.
Judge to Determine Fate of Domino Sugar Factory Within Month [TRD]
Legal Battle Adds to Domino Development Drama [Brownstoner]
Photo by Loozrboy
Just recently there was news that the developers of Willimasburg’s massive Domino Sugar Refinery building into a huge mixed-used project heavy on housing were quietly shopping around the site. This morning, Crain’s has a story detailing just why the plans are far from being realized, and the bottom line is that the Katan Group is alleging in a lawsuit that Domino the firm’s partner, CPC Resources, has mismanaged the development process and played fast-and-loose with financing. Katan also wants to block the sale of the site to the lender, and CPC Resources is denying Katan’s charges. Here’s the legal back-and-forth and charges that the suit are based on:
“In 2004, CPC Resources and Katan acquired the site for $55 million, each contributing $10 million in capital to the deal, according to the court filing. A total of $65.5 million in financing was obtained from CPC Resources’ parent company, Community Preservation Corp., which provides financing for affordable housing development, and from Marathon Structured Finance. Since the acquisition, as the partner designated to oversee the development, CPC Resources has collected $25 million in fees for legal services, architects, unspecified consulting fees, environment fees and security for the development. CPC Resources “has effectively depleted all of Refinery’s available capital, while virtually no construction work has been performed,” the filing said, adding that the ownership is “devoid of operating budget.” According to the filing, that is despite the $20 million in capital put into the Domino project, the $25 million in fees collected since the start of the project, and the $120 million in financing obtained in 2007 to pay off the original lenders on the project. In 2009, due to the market collapse and uncertainty about the granting of zoning approvals for the project, it became clear that the effort would need additional financing, the filing said, but instead, CPC Resources began to negotiate with its existing lender, Pacific Coast, which in September 2010 extended its loan. Katan claims that CPC Resources refused to permit it to meet with Pacific Coast to negotiate terms.”
Meanwhile, the Katan Group also alleges that CPC rebuffed high offers from a couple firms looking to buy the site in favor of continuing to tango with Pacific Coast.
Domino Sugar Plans on Verge of Meltdown [Crain’s]
Photo by Loozrboy