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March 5, 2014

Rachaele Raynoff / Michael Shilstone (City Planning): (212) 720-3471

Statement By City Planning Commission Chairman Carl Weisbrod
On The City Planning Commission Vote For The Redevelopment
Of The Domino Sugar Factory Site

March 5, 2014 - Today we are voting on an application to transform the former Domino Sugar Refinery on the Williamsburg waterfront into a nearly 3 million square foot mixed-use development with more than 2,200 housing units, approximately 480,000 square feet of office space, 110,000 square feet of retail space, and 143,000 square feet of community facility space including a school.  Publicly accessible open spaces totaling 4.8 acres would also be created along the waterfront and within the development. 

I believe we are all in agreement that this application represents an improvement over the previously approved Domino project with respect to its site plan, enhanced open space, and the fact that it will include incubator, tech and commercial office space that will enable emerging industries to grow in Williamsburg. And I want to commend the applicant, Two Trees, and its principal Jed Walentas, for this improved plan.

Although I wasn’t here for the public hearing, I have carefully and thoroughly reviewed the record, and was present for Monday’s review session. One of the core issues throughout the review of this project has been affordable housing. The approvals of the borough president and community board were contingent on assurances that the affordable housing promised would be delivered and that the development would include a mix of family-sized units.  Similarly, concerns were expressed by members of this Commission throughout this review process, which started in the last administration.  And affordable housing is, of course, the stated goal of the Mayor, who has committed to achieving 200,000 affordable apartments over the next ten years.

The applicant seeks approval for buildings that are as much as 20 stories taller as part of a development that is 200,000 square feet larger overall than the 2010 Domino project.  We want to encourage development with bold designs and great site plans like Domino.  We know this increases the value of development and we also want to ensure that the public can share in the increased value through the provision of affordable housing.

As Department staff has noted, this project is a predominantly residential large scale development where the commercial and community facility uses are integral to the overall mix of uses.  As such, we have treated the entire project as a large scale development for purposes of calculating the affordable housing required. This results in an increase in affordable floor area above that provided for in the 2010 approvals, and provides for a total of approximately 537,000 square feet of affordable housing, enough to create 700 affordable apartments covering a range of incomes, including a significant number of units sized for families. These units also will be permanently affordable.

And, as you may have read in the Mayor’s announcement Monday, the applicant has committed that work on the first building will begin in December of this year.

This is an impressive achievement. What we are today approving sows the seeds for an economically healthy mixed-income, mixed-use neighborhood of the future.

I look forward to working with my fellow Commission members, as well as our community boards, borough presidents and the City Council, as we review land use applications to make them the best that they can be for their communities and for the city. 

Department of City Planning
The Department of City Planning (DCP) promotes strategic growth, transit-oriented development, and sustainable communities in the City, in part by initiating comprehensive, consensus-based planning and zoning changes for individual neighborhoods and business districts, as well as establishing policies and zoning regulations applicable citywide. It supports the City Planning Commission and each year reviews more than 500 land use applications for actions such as zoning changes and disposition of City property. The Department assists both government agencies and the public by providing policy analysis and technical assistance relating to housing, transportation, community facilities, demography, waterfront and public space.

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