Borough President Markowitz backed the controversial Domino Sugar redevelopment last Friday, praising the $2-billion condo plan at the abandoned waterfront refinery as “ambitious” and “vibrant” — even as he ordered up a few minor tweaks.
Overall, however, it was sweet relief for the Community Preservation Corporation, which hopes to turn the decrepit former factory into 2,200 units of housing, 30 percent of which would be set aside at below-market rates.
If his tweaks are accepted, Markowitz said, “I will proudly say to Domino, Domi-YES!”
“This plan celebrates Brooklyn’s waterfront and understands the need for affordable housing,” the Beep added.
Markowitz’s conditions included the elimination of 782 parking spaces, a small trim to one of the project’s tallest towers, and a guarantee that the developer’s commitment to affordability is permanent.
He also demanded a supermarket on site and called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to beef up service to handle what is expected to be tens of thousands of new residents along the Kent Avenue corridor in the next 10 years — the fruit of a 2005 upzoning that encouraged just this type of development.
Community Preservation Corporation Resources President Michael Lappin was delighted with Markowitz’s backing, saying that the Beep supported the company’s “balanced approach” to mixed-use development.
“Maintaining that responsible balance, including maximum affordability, parks and open space, access to the waterfront ... is fundamental to the New Domino,” said Lappin.
Since 2004, developers Community Preservation Corporation Resources and the Katan Group have sought to transform the 11.2-acre industrial property containing the landmarked factory into a 2,200-unit residential and retail behemoth.
Markowitz’s support is the first real good for the project as it has made its way through the public-review process. Community Board 1 rejected it by a two-to-one margin in March, and Councilman Steve Levin (D-Williamsburg) has made it clear that he does not support the project — and his vote will be key as the development seeks a final approval from the Council later this spring.
Locals’ reactions to Markowitz’s “yes” recommendation were mixed.
“Marty is inconsistently consistent,” said Williamsburg activist Phil DePaolo. “All these ‘yes with alterations’ are basically what the community board wanted. We’re confused why Marty didn’t stay with the board and vote no. All the City Planning Commission is going to see is the Borough President saying ‘yes.’
“The only way to get any improvements to the project is to vote against it,” he added. “You have to fight.”
But Community Board 1 member Rob Solano praised Markowitz for emphasizing affordable housing and job creation over density and infrastructure as the neighborhood’s most pressing need.
“It is finally good to see someone take the responsibility to build what is needed in Williamsburg,” said Solano. “How sweet it is.”
©2010 Community News Group
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