Mayor De Blasio is finally ready to sign a deal with the developer eyeing the Williamsburg Domino Sugar refinery that will satisfy various contingents of New Yorkers.
On Monday, the De Blasio administration came to an agreement with developer Jed Walentas, a principal of Two-Trees Management Company, his family-owned business. The agreement calls for more units to be dedicated to affordable housing in return for permission to build up to 20 stories more than originally allowed and possibly rising 55 stories above the East River.
The new mayor’s decision, which less than 48 hours later led to the City Planning Commission adding their unanimous approval, is reflective of his declarations thus far to have more real estate development projects geared toward New Yorkers from a wider variety of economic backgrounds and not just toward the ultra-rich. That kind of development under the Bloomberg administration has been exemplified by the addition of “Billionaire’s Row” in Manhattan and the erection of several breathtaking super towers—all definitely priced on the high end and making New York appear slightly noninclusive to some.
In his inaugural speech back in January, Mayor De Blasio mentioned his desire to change the city’s current reputation by saying: “We are called to put an end to economic and social inequalities that threaten to unravel the city we love.”
The Domino proposal in Brooklyn’s recently designated “hip neighborhood,” will now comply with De Blasio’s plans and include 700 instead of 660 units for affordable two- and three-bedroom apartments within the 2,300-unit, $1.5 billion project. Once the deal is finalized on the redevelopment of the world’s once-largest sugar factory (it was built back in the 1800s), it is expected that Two Trees Management will be granted zoning changes that will allow them to construct several sleek residential skyscrapers. These new structures will offer office space to accommodate New York City’s tech boom, a completely revamped and expanded five-acre riverfront esplanade, and a new school.
In agreement with the Mayor, Commissioner Michelle de la Uz told The Daily News that projects such as this one are indeed a step in the right direction for the city’s housing problem. “I know some people are uncomfortable with the density and the height of this project,” she said. “We all need to recognize the housing crisis we’re in and seize every opportunity to maximize units.”
With construction slated to begin in December, this will be the first major mixed-use development plan for the De Blasio administration, and it will assuredly keep New Yorkers poised for more projects designed to include a wider range of the city’s population.
Two Trees acquired the 11.2-acre site in 2012 for $185 million and has since remodeled its intricate plans to incorporate more space, especially for commercial use. As of right now, they are waiting for the city council to approve the plans so they can indeed break ground in the winter.