Sweet and low! That’s the rent if you want to open a business next to Domino Sugar

The Domino Sugar sign will not be protected as a landmark, but the developer of the site vows to save it.
Travis Harrison

The new owners of the Domino Sugar Factory are eager to make a good impression in Williamsburg — so they’re offering a sweet deal to emerging Brooklyn entrepreneurs.

Two Trees Management Co., the builder that purchased the ailing development site late last year, is offering Brooklynites the chance to set up temporary businesses in a big lot across the street from the shuttered factory for “any fee the user is able to pay.”

And the developers — who are working on their own plans for the controversial housing and retail complex — will hear out any proposals.

“We’re looking for art or recreation or a market or food, the kind of uses that will be popular with a wide range of residents,” said Dave Lombino, Two Trees’ director of special projects.

But would-be tenants must be able to work fast: proposals are due Jan. 31 and the winning bidder should open in March.

“It has to be a plan they can put together quickly and will need a minimal level of infrastructure and doesn’t need to be there for a long time,” Lombino said.

The lucky business will have run of the site, which comprises nearly the entire block of Kent Avenue between S. Third and S. Fourth streets, for a minimum of one year. Rent is a steal, but the winning bidder will need to cover a security deposit, insurance, taxes, cleaning, and other fees.

The pay-what-you-wish approach to rent won’t make Two Trees much money, considering the company shelled out $185 million to buy the factory in October. But the builder hopes the pop-up venture will create good will while it revises the controversial blueprint for the mega-development, which some neighbors hate for its proposed height but love for its ample below-market-rate housing.

“We’re new to the neighborhood and eager to make a good impression,” said Lombino, whose company is behind the hip Wythe Hotel in the Northside. “We helped build the creative scene in DUMBO and we’re planning on bringing that legacy to Williamsburg with us.”

Just a few hours after Two Trees announced the project, North Brooklyn was buzzing with ideas about what to do with the vacant lot.

Dan Lucal said he has had his eye on the space for a while — and it’s ripe for a corn field.

“I like growing corn. It grows fast and looks stylish,” said Lucal, who would open the space up to the public during harvest time for corn mazes. “It’s art, I guess.”

Filmmaker Ellie Lotan has a more conventional idea for the space: turning it into a cooperative office space with a garden, a library, and event rooms.

“If it were successful, we could take it somewhere else afterward,” said Lotan. “Building it with trailers is a great idea. There are lot of pop-up buildings happening now.”

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

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