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Levin leads anti-Domino charge

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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.

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.

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Reader Feedback

Ken from Greenpoint says:
Again again and again… this freshmen Levine is just a puppet from his buss Vito Lopez, this big project is a big accomplishment for our community
660 affordable units are 30%. according New York City rules and regulations should be only 20% we need housing desperately
As you all see mayor Bloomberg, Brooklyn Borough President, and city planning are for the plan big time,
The only problem is that Domino owners doesn’t like to be controlled by Lopez-Levine and his company, they are just trouble makers! They don’t like
That Hamish people should get big and nice affordable apartments... Let’s support this Domino project so we will have a better and bigger live style
We all wish Domino owners lots of luck… Go Domino Go!!!
June 21, 2010, 11:28 pm
Attorney at Law from Greenpoint says: says:
I am an attorney familiar with zoning in this area. I fully support the Domino Project because it will lead to a revitalization of the waterfront, written about in papers as "the next gold coast."

Property values will rise, jobs will be created, and a blighted community will become alive.

These politicians are misguided.
June 21, 2010, 11:36 pm
Ken from Willamsburg says:
What can be wrong if some developer wants to spend 2 Billion dollars and build housing? To oppose that it is only because the Low-Pez clan wants to extort from the developers something that they don't want to give !
June 21, 2010, 11:39 pm
Katy from Greenpoint says:
Typical, when Uncle Vito doesn't get his cut it's automatically a bad deal and Levine has always been a Lopez Krony so no surprises here.
June 21, 2010, 11:40 pm
Michael from Willaimsburg says:
Do Mr. Lopez and Mr. Levine understand basic economics and business risk?

The fact that a company wants to invest billions in the neighborhood is a good thing (and truly almost unbeleavable for old time New Yorkers who remember the 70s and 80s). There is no guarantee that they will see a return on their investment - as many williamsburg developers who lost everything will tell you.

They have already agreed to build 30% "affordable". Please note, that the real estate crash makes housing more affordable for ALL, not the select few. When the free market is allowed to do its thing, the end user (buyer, renter) benefits with more for thier money (see florida, Az, las vegas) Less government means its cheaper to build. BTW - where was Mr. Lopez when Domino threatened to close the factory and loose all those jobs? I would prefer that Domino was up and running as a factory, but that sadly is history. Part of the problem is NYC is so expensive to run a business - partly due to the policies and shakedowns of people like Mr. Lopez.

June 22, 2010, 8:37 am
Jay from Williamsburg says:
Unfortunately, I can only view this project from my own selfish perspective as a Southside resident. There is no way that the public transportation system can support this project. Today, and everyday my pregnant wife and I fight to get on a train to manhattan. By 8:00am, the trains are already overcrowded. I can't imagine what they look like at 9:00am when the creatives start to go to work. The intentions and the business plan of the Domino developers might be spot on, but there is no way they can make up for the oversight of the previous developers and organic growth the community has had. As it stands right now, the number of trains leaving northern brooklyn for manhattan need to be tripled to meet the demand. An additional 2,200 units is absolutely unsustainable. What happens when toll brothers and the edge finally fill with residents? What about all the stalled projects along Grand Street? And Wythe? What happens when they fill? Moreover, who do they think they're going to sell them to?
June 22, 2010, 8:53 am
Michael from Willaimsburg says:
Also - lets focus on the architecture and building quality structures. That is the legacy we leave to future generations.
The new waterfront buildings are pretty bland - lets build something that really dazzles the skyline and adds to the quality of life for all.

June 22, 2010, 9:19 am
Shawn from South Williamsburg says:
The project is too big and architecturally forgettable. What a waste of an opportunity to put a beautiful building on the waterfront. Developers in Williamsburg have no concept of good taste. The design is just tacky and no one seems to see it or care enough to really do something about it.
June 22, 2010, 9:36 am
Paco from Cobble Hill says:
Development can indeed be good, but only when it has enough basic infrastructure for its residents. Transportation is poor by the Domino factory right now... add thousands of residents, its gonna get worse for everybody on the L and J,M,Z lines. And with plans 1400 parking spots, that's gonna attract 1400 more cars congesting the streets. I can't support this project till the numbers come down.
June 22, 2010, 11 am
The candidate Says: says:
Last I checked Vito Low-pez was not the Assemblyman when he opposed Schaefer, he was not the Assemblyman when he opposed Rose Plaza and he is not the Assemblyman when he opposes Domino-Joe lentol is or is he?.

So for Low-pez to lecture Councilwomen Reyna is pure CHUTZPAH, OH he is also worried about the money spent on T-shirts Vito has had more under the table deals then any furniture repair man.

Just one, what was the $30,000.00 you paid Levin for extra expenses over his $90,000.00 payroll while he was on your payroll can you Vito define it please?
June 22, 2010, 12:19 pm
11211 from 11211 says:
developers have been running wild here
this is the biggest project yet
no planning at all has gone into transportation infrastructure
On a big avenue in Manhattan traffic is expected. On my tiny one-way neighborhood street it is going to have a big negative impact
I'm for less density and more open space
June 22, 2010, 12:34 pm
pal from greenpoint says:
Susan Pollack is just trying to cash in. You have to be really really naive to think that there will be affordable housing or that this development will be different from others like she claims. On top of that, the plans are so unbelieveably bland and tastless like the Edge. Brooklyn is turning into Manhattan. Everyone wants to move here because of it's culture and character. Susan Pollack is a cultural parasite - just another greedy developer. she really doesn't care about the community. she's just bargaining to get her crappy development up. i'm sure there will be plenty of lovely loopholes for her so she won't have to live up to the community's demands in the long run.
June 22, 2010, 1:26 pm
Phenelope from Williamsburg says:
I take it these developers or council people have never tried to get on the L train in the morning. I work freelance and could leave any where from 8 to 11.30 and I have to wait several trains at any of these hours. I also am on the Southside---this will add too many people to a little space. More open space makes sense. Even Art space for the community makes more sense!!
June 22, 2010, 1:49 pm
Kim from Greenpoint says:
Guys this plan is a go!!! Stop complaining it’s about time to relies we the community needs affordable big time, Vito Lopez and his company
Are just trouble makers as always!!!! Trying to get controlled, we all don’t understand Vito is not our assemblyman he just hired by his unprofessional student Steve Levine, let’s call him “LEVI-NO”… Lets keep our fingers crossed hoping for a better living at the nice waterfront…
June 22, 2010, 3:40 pm
goyo from los sures says:
Everything is wrong about this development if there is no new schools or public tranportation included.
June 22, 2010, 11:50 pm
Amelia from Williamsburg says:
I don't understand why the city is trying to eliminate B39 in Williamsburgh given the rise in population and the new developments ahead of us - this is totally insane - where is Vito Lopez's puppet? Levin, the one who likes to oppose development over pity excuses...he should be using his time fighting to fix Kent Ave.,Kent Avenue is such a spacious and wide avenue, what a waste of space by having just one single way, instead of leaving Whythe for the bikes...WHO ON EARTH IS THINKING IN THIS CITY?

Anyway, I support Domino, and yes those Councilmembers don't know anything about economics and the benefits to the community....Plus, this is a 10 YEARS-PLAN, a new bridge can be built soon (ok, maybe not a bridge but a solution to mitigate the negative externatilities of Domino and trust me more to come projects)...

June 24, 2010, 9:38 am
Brian says:
This is a false and narrow debate you all are engaging in.

The real debate should be about whether 10 miles of luxury condo towers from Astoria to Downtown Brooklyn is really a good idea for the city. This is the future reality that we see developing before our eyes.

Politicians have leverage over the Domino site because it was left zoned for manufacturing during the 2005 rezoning of Williamburg-Greenpoint.

Might it not be a better idea to save this site for a different kind of development that would contribute to the creative economy of Brooklyn and provide good jobs?

Do we really want a Battery Park City from Astoria to the Brooklyn Bridge?

Think of the bigger picture
June 27, 2010, 3:15 pm
Williamsburg says:
"Do we really want a Battery Park City from Astoria to the Brooklyn Bridge?"

Yes we do.
June 28, 2010, 12:01 pm
Andre Soleil from Williamsburg says:
Levin, Lentol and Lopez . . . the "3L's" . . . aren't misguided, they just haven't gotten a big enough payoff yet. Both the Rose and Domino developments aren't under their allies' control.
Enough cynicism (or dreary reality), unlike the vast majority of development in Brooklyn's north coastal districts, where there is no inclusion of the neighborhood's housing needs, these two projects do contain a 30% housing promise (with an enforceable 20% due to agreements with city housing agencies regarding property taxes). So instead of moving the poor natives out (aka gentrification), these development's are helping move their poor neighbors up.
Albany is broke! It is the worse state government in all the United States. We still don't have a State Budget! Always turn a cynical eye to the activities of our government's entrenched legislative members. Absolute power breeds absolute corruption - ALBANY. This is why we need to change ALBANY.
Sorry Joe Lentol, you've been a part of corrupt ALBANY since for 38 years, since Nixon was President, Rockefeller was Governor and I was 5! I don't think we can count on you to change a thing. ALBANY works just fine for you, you helped make it the way!
Reform Albany, Vote Soleil on September 14, 2010!
Aug. 2, 2010, 12:25 pm

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