New name, mission for preservation group

The preservationist group that fought to landmark the Domino Sugar refinery and other industrial sites along the Williamsburg and Greenpoint waterfront has changed its name to more accurately reflect its mission.

The Waterfront Preservation Alliance of Greenpoint and Williamsburg will now be known as the Williamsburg Greenpoint Preservation Alliance — indicating the group’s commitment to the entirety of both neighborhoods, not just the waterfront.

“We started to think that the waterfront part of it wasn’t telling the whole story, so we decided to change the name,” said group spokesman Ward Dennis. “People have assumed that we’re only interested in industrial buildings along the waterfront, but in reality, we’re looking at all of Williamsburg and Greenpoint.”

The alliance came together in 2004 to back the landmarking of the Cass Gilbert–designed Austin-Nichols warehouse at 184 Kent St. The Landmarks Preservation Commission did declare it worthy of such designation, but the City Council overruled it, clearing the way for owner Moishe Kestenbaum to alter the facade, construct a large rooftop addition and convert the building into luxury condos.

In the past two months, the group has had more success in preserving historic buildings by supporting landmark designations for the Domino plant in Williamsburg and the Eberhard Faber pencil factory complex in Greenpoint, both of which were recently granted protected status by the LPC.

But Dennis said the group is concerned about preserving more than just factories and warehouses. He says the alliance is working on a proposal to landmark Fillmore Place, a block of pre-Civil War rowhouses between Driggs Avenue and Roebling Street, one block north of Grand Street.

“We’re also interested in issues that go beyond historic and architectural preservation to neighborhood preservation, including sustainable development and good growth,” said Dennis, who is also chairman of the Community Board 1 land-use committee.

For more information, visit www.wgpa.us.

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