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Sweet and sour on Domino: New plan draws mixed reaction

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Brooklyn is either sweet on the Domino development plan — or pushing a no-sugar diet.

Two Trees Management Co.’s distinctive new renderings for the conversion of the Williamsburg site drew cheers from backers who say the artsy architecture will create a vibrant and bustling waterfront community, and harsh words from critics who claim the strangely shaped structures are just the next step in the neighborhood’s march to gentrification.

Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Williamburg) and William Harvey, creator of the nascent North Brooklyn Creative Economy Zone — who are both on a list of approved sources distributed by Two Trees — each called this reporter and gave similarly-worded praise for the project.

“It’s inventive and so much better than the original Domino plan, which was not innovative at all,” said Lentol. “It was very paint-by-the-numbers.

“It’s a world-class plan that incorporates significant amount of space for the creative economy that will benefit North Brooklyn,” said Harvey. “The [Community Preservation Corporation Resources] was unimaginative and design-by-numbers.”

Both said the billion-dollar plan — which calls for four rental towers, a waterfront park, and a public square around the landmarked Domino refinery building — would help squelch rising rents in Williamsburg.

“This is going to be about the law of supply and demand,” said Lentol. “There is a need for residential housing.”

“It’s about supply and demand,” said Harvey. “If we have a bigger supply, it should mitigate prices.”

But project opponents said the SHoP Architects’ proposal for Dubai-style high-rises, decked out with prominent holes in the center of the buildings, is a sign that Williamsburg’s transition from bohemian to upscale is nearly complete.

“It is now easier than ever for the financiers who will soon make up the bulk of the residents of Williamsburg’s waterfront to land their hovercrafts inside of their be-holed condominium tower,” quipped Gawker scribe Hamilton Nolan.

Neighborhood landlord Stephanie Eisenberg, a vocal opponent of the original plan, said she has just as much apprehension about the Two Trees proposal, which calls for 2,284 apartments, 660 of them charging below-market-rate rents.

“It’s a socio-economically segregated community,” said Eisenberg, who once suggested turning the Domino refinery into a museum. “It’s dead. It’s boring.”

Community merchants are excited about any development at the former sugar factory, with Aurora Ristorante general manager Damien Graef saying he would support “anything that brings more people west of Bedford [Avenue],” and Main Drag Music owner and founder Karl Myers calling it “a step forward for the neighborhood” that could lead him to carry more high-end products that would cater to the new tenants.

Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsbu­rg) — a long-time foe of the original Domino plan who gave the now-scrapped proposal his blessing after convincing builders to shave six stories from its tallest towers — said he finds the new design “ambitious and interesting” and is happy about increased office and green space, but is reserving judgement for now.

“It’s a very big project and there’s plenty to work through,” said Levin.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.

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Reader Feedback

manposeur from brokelyn says:
Only 660 below-market units out of 2284 units? It should be half. Sure its okay tio develop the sugar factory but keep it reasonable or within the neighberhood aesthetics. I smell Trump like facilities for this section of Brooklyn.
March 5, 2013, 11:09 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
You don't get below-market rate apartments by declaring some below-market. You get them by building enough new construction that older buildings get lower prices. The wealthy can always move to new ones--or wherever they want. If the East Village weren't kept artificially underdeveloped, would the rents in Bushwick be rising as fast now?
March 5, 2013, 1:51 pm
Friend of Marty Mashugana from Borough "Haul" says:
Sources say Marty Mashuguna will take the penthouse apartment, so he can scream loudly "How Sweet it Is!!!"
March 5, 2013, 2:58 pm
Will from Brooklyn says:
Most people don't get the concept of supply and demand. While I do believe in subsidized housing in a place like NYC, because the demand is skewed do to being a global, financially safe investment for the world's elite that there needs to be a balanced way to provide housing for the millions of people that make the city operate efficiently.

I personally think the plan is remarkably better than any of the other mega-project plans that the city has rolled out over the past 12 years. Mega-projects will never have the organic, neighborhood aesthetic that attract people to places like the East Village, Park Slope, Williamsburg, Carroll Gardens, etc., but maybe enough of these projects can be absorbed by the wealthier that want new buildings leaving some of the more neighborhood-friendly existing apartment buildings in these neighborhood and others for the less affluent (but by no means poor).

Restricting supply isn’t going to reduce prices.
March 5, 2013, 3:01 pm
Will from Brooklyn says:
due*
March 5, 2013, 3:02 pm
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
Most people that project "others don't understand supply and demand" typically ignore the history of supply and demand in real estate. Firstly, "Mike from Brooklyn," the Lower East Side is not "underdeveloped." That is subjective nonsense unsupported by fact except for those artificially constructing "inventory" to generate profit. Instead of stating an empty bromide like "to decrease rent, build more," offer substantive proof such a thing actually happens ANYWHERE. Secondly, "Will from Brooklyn", another person divorcing "supply and demand" from the abstractions of "property" [unlike most valuable, possessions and accumulations, "property" is driven by abstraction and not accumulation] and also relating to "Mike from Brooklyn," try paying attention to history than personal opinion about the "misunderstandings of other people" and surely you'll disabuse yourself of your own misunderstandings, the explosion in construction in North Brooklyn since the 2005-rezoning is a direct cause, not a correlation, but a direct cause of exponential price increases. "Demand" or even "inventory" is not driven by the tangible accumulation of "space," it is driven entirely by "desire." If "desire" decreases for space in North Brooklyn then prices will likewise decrease--irrespective of accumulation.

So please--stop talking about how "other people" don't understand and actually learn economics, stop using bromides like "supply and demand" that become meaningless when you divorce those terms from larger pictures in economics AND history.
March 6, 2013, 6:31 am
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
Here, to help out those "other people" who "don't understand" "supply and demand," a useful wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supply_and_demand#Criticisms

"Goodwin, Nelson, Ackerman, and Weissskopf write: "If we mistakenly confuse precision with accuracy, then we might be misled into thinking that an explanation expressed in precise mathematical or graphical terms is somehow more rigorous or useful than one that takes into account particulars of history, institutions or business strategy. This is not the case. Therefore, it is important not to put too much confidence in the apparent precision of supply and demand graphs. Supply and demand analysis is a useful precisely formulated conceptual tool that clever people have devised to help us gain an abstract understanding of a complex world. It does not—nor should it be expected to—give us in addition an accurate and complete description of any particular real world market.""
March 6, 2013, 6:35 am
John from Williamsburg says:
I think the open space is a marked improvement from the original design, however the buildings themselves are just ugly. This is the type of architecture that goes for modern and innovative and then looks extremely dated and hokey circa, oh, the day after it gets completed.
March 6, 2013, 7:59 am
jjm from ch says:
This is a no-go for me because its ugly as hell, it caters to the uppity class & there just isnt enough affordable housing. Scrap this BS!!
March 6, 2013, 11:08 am
jjm from ch says:
Lower & mid-income residents outnumber the upper class in this city by a large margin but yet they keep trying to accomodate them, what gives?? We're just not gonna see any real changes in regards to things like this until bloombucks is outta here & man oh man i cant wait til he leaves.
March 6, 2013, 11:15 am
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
I think there's some distance between how the Walentas understand this project and how the project materializes, so to speak, in these latest renderings. Constructing the tallest edifices in all Brooklyn, let alone North Brooklyn, flies in the face of expressed sentiments or desires to "integrate well" with the community. There is no structure in all of North Brooklyn that matches the height of the N O towers in this rendering. Indeed, this rendering proposes to be taller by far than, say, that Scarano building on North 7th, monstrous in ugliness and giving the appearance of counterfeiting--how? By its implicit dedication to the same basic shapes, geometry and even underlying philosophy as what SHoP renders--we've all previously ridiculed this type of design as "Lego Block." If you want to sound classy, "pseudo-modernity" fits tight but that's the best you'll size.

I agree with "John from Williamsburg": "This is the type of architecture that goes for modern and innovative and then looks extremely dated and hokey circa, oh, the day after it gets completed." Short-term memory is terrible around here--maybe marijuana is the plague with all the relaxed attitudes towards what agents of gentrification can do in public versus behavior by locals. The Edge and Northside Piers, two projects hard-pressed in the current to find positive review or appreciation for their execution and construction, were celebrated by new and old Brooklyn media in fever at each stage of their conception and execution, wholly lacking any critical acumen or insight--this paper, Brooklyn Paper, a fine example to consider. And the same with the Wythe Hotel--anyone need me to connect the Walentas between the Hotel and this project? The Wythe Hotel's opening was attended by undeserved drooling--not sustained or substantiated by the ongoing operation of the Hotel since those initial ecstatic moments of denial.

Walentas' attitude is a step in the right direction. Everything else that proceeds from those attitudes are not as certain. Yet, the Walentas' public declarations of history and legacy are believable. There's no reason not to believe in their belief in themselves--ha! However, other commenters have already noted this most readily apparent form in this proposal--it looks like 'NO.' Is that what the Walentas want to go down in history t/here/in? Best to tell SHoP to reinvent again, for Real this time.
March 6, 2013, 4:52 pm
Will from Brooklyn says:
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg, people were gentrifying North Brooklyn before the rezoning took place in 2005. If not for the zoning the pressure on the existing housing stock in those neighborhoods would have been even greater and caused the older housing stock to become vastly more expensive. The new development softens the blow on the existing housing stock and keeps its prices from being pushed higher. Without the rezonings of non-residential areas in North Brooklyn you would see the same sort of thing that is happening in the East Village were older residential buildings are being renovated for the most affluent because the demand for the neighborhood is so great, but new construction is difficult to impossible.
March 8, 2013, 10:28 am
ty from pps says:
Dennis,
You don't believe in the economical or, shall I say, parsimonious use of words, eh?
March 8, 2013, 4:37 pm
Elias from 10003 says:
I would rather read a thousand pages of Dennis' writings that a single sentence from ty.
March 9, 2013, 4:36 pm
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
"Ty from pps," I was just writing about how "hipsters" can't receive Irony the way they project It. If you desired or actually practiced parsimony your rhetorical question would have followed, "Dennis,
You don't believe in word economy or, shall I say, parsimony, eh?"

I also wrote, kizmet,
"Whenever media [ha!], including and emphasizing the public and largely pseudonymous commentary, was sycophant, there lacked complaint against sensationalism, bombast, pretense or pedantry. Tally all the words written in critical examination and that of this ongoing sycophancy, and it won't restraint complaint that one is “writing too much,” making too much ado, “obsessed,” “stating the obvious,” “insane” with “nothing better to do” who couldn't possibly genuinely or successfully parcel some thought, search for meaning or increase intellect equitable to this sycophancy."

Because you want to pretend the problem here is my parsimony or lack thereof.
March 11, 2013, 11:17 am
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
That was from the recent L Magazine piece, "Hipsters Have Not Destroyed Brooklyn" (Virginia Smith):

http://m.thelmagazine.com/newyork/blogs/Post?basename=hipsters-have-not-destroyed-brooklyn&day=05&id=BrooklynAbridged&month=03&year=2013

Elias from 10003, you're kind, and if you're telling the truth, I will soon post some salient excerpts from Jonathan Smith's "The Topography of the Sacred."
March 11, 2013, 11:52 am
harry from south willy says:
sounds like alot of crying from people that should have went to college and got a good job ......
we need we nedd ...shut up !!
March 12, 2013, 10:49 pm
Ben from Downtown Brooklyn says:
This is hilarious. TwoTrees suck as property management company and also as developer.

I worked in TwoTrees managed building and leased in one of TwoTrees buildings as resident.... They suck horribly.

Slow to fix things, lie their butt off...
March 13, 2013, 4:23 pm

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