Sour on Domino
May 5th, 2010
Anya Khalamayzer filed this post.
Williamsburg community activists are continuing their efforts to block or change plans that would convert the old Domino Sugar Refinery into a luxury apartment complex. Members of Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, formerly Neighbors Against Garbage, gathered at the group’s offices on Kent Avenue and North 7th Street in Williamsburg last night to discuss how the redevelopment might change their community and the waterfront.
“The Domino Sugar refinery literally used to be the lifeblood of this community,” said tenant organizer Ryan Kuonen, a history buff.
Neighbors Allied members fear that the construction of 2,200 new apartments will displace current tenants, harm the district’s environment and further crowd the L train. As more market-rate apartments follow and bring with them chainstores such as the Duane Reade being constructed on North 3rd and Bedford, the Poles, Latinos, Hasidim, artists and mom-and-pop businesses now in the neighborhood face being forced out.
CPC Resources, the developer behind the New Domino building, has promised to set aside 30 percent, or 660 apartments, of affordable housing for Williamsburg residents whose yearly income is below the stateís average median.
But Neighbors Allied co-founder Laey Tauber has her doubts. “The devil is in the details,” she said. Tauber has heard from friends who live in special units in other luxury residents that the tenants who pay the lower rate get neither the housing quality nor access to amenities enjoyed by the tenants who pay market rate. She also complains that those who need the housing will still be unable to afford the lower rates.
Spread over an estimated eight towers looming 10 to 40 stories in height, the New Domino may reel in as many as 7,000 new residents. To transport these people to their jobs, Borough President Marty Markowitz , who backs the plan, has urged that shuttle buses run the six blocks from Kent and North 4th Street to the Bedford Avenue/ North 7th Street L train station
Those buses would make it easier to get to the subway but would do nothing to ease the crowding on the trains themselves. For those who donít want to rub elbows on the subway, the project will include 1,700 parking spaces.
Critics charge this will encourage the use of cars in a neighborhood with a high asthma rate, as shown by the city’s Community Health Survey.
CPC Resources also plans to build a four-acre waterfront esplanade designed by famed Rafael Vinoly Architects. But some residents worry that will not be enough to compensate for all the additional people in the neighborhood, and there still will be less open space per person than there is now. The towers also are predicted to cast a shadow over other public parks.
In February, Community Board 1 voted “no” on the new Domino last month, but that decision is purely advisory. The project must win approval from the City Planning Commission and City Council. The area’s two council members remain split on the project. Stephen Levin opposes the plan, but Diana Reyna is in favor on the grounds that the development would create jobs.By Gail Robinson on May 5, 2010, 6:46 pm
In category: Community Development, Housing, Land Use | 4 Comments »