Levin leads anti-Domino charge

Dilan to oppose Velazquez for House
Community Newspaper Group / Aaron Short

A Williamsburg lawmaker slammed the Domino Sugar redevelopment plan as too big and too expensive for a neighborhood already burdened by packed subways and gentification.

Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg) led the attack on Community Preservation Corporation’s $1.2-billion, 2,200-unit project, demanding that it be cut to 1,600 units — and the number of apartments set aside at below-market-rate prices be upped from 30 percent to 40 percent.

“People have concerns about the height, the density, the transportation negative impacts and open space negative impacts that this project will have,” Levin said. “This is a refrain that I hear from everyone, even if they support this project.

But Levin’s call for a smaller, cheaper project was soundly rejected by developer Susan Pollock, who said her development is very different from others mostly luxury projects in new buildings along the waterfront.

“It doesn’t bear any resemblance to other projects in Greenpoint and Williamsburg,” said Pollock. “It far exceeds what has been presented [elsewhere].”

The Domino project, which would create several acres of public space along the once-industrial waterfront, was unanimously approved by the City Planning Commission two weeks ago and enjoys the support of Mayor Bloomberg.

But it still needs the approval of the Council — where members often defer to the councilman in whose district a zoning issue resides.

Councilman Steve Levin has been a strong opponent of the Domino Sugar redevelopment project in his district. Here, he whips up the anti-Domino side before a Council hearing on Monday.
Community Newspaper Group / Aaron Short

And Levin is rallying the “overdevelopment” troops.

“I know people who take the L train back towards Canarsie [from Bedford Avenue] just to get a seat,” said Levin. “The L train is the least likely train to get a seat on.”

He accused Pollock of not doing enough to solve that problem, though other developers have certainly added thousands of new residents to the neighborhood.

Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D-Williamsburg) also slammed the Domino project in his testimony, saying it would “create a Gold Coast” along the Williamsburg shore.

Lopez has been involved in the creation of thousands of units of affordable housing throughout his 26-year tenure, but has been critical of Domino, calling on developers to increase the below-market-rate units to 1,000 — and provide free transportation to and from Union Square during morning and evening rush hours.

“We have to fight for the working person, fight for the people who have gave up a day who dream for an apartment, not the people who can buy an apartment or pay $6,000 in rent,” said Lopez. “We don’t need to help those people. They can help themselves.”

The Council is expected to vote on the project next week.

It’s not in his district, but Assemblyman Vito Lopez also opposes the redevelopment.
Community Newspaper Group / Aaron Short