The strip of Brooklyn waterfront behind Domino’s Sugar Factory came alive last Sunday, when the New Domino development opened the area to the public. Visitors strolled along the concrete walkway, enjoying free apple cider and a spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline from the Statue of Liberty to the Queensboro Bridge. The still-industrial space was decorated by artists’ renderings of the area as a lush park, shadowed by glass apartment towers instead of a crumbling factory.
“We’re hoping to achieve a great balance here,” said Susan Pollack, who worked with Community Preservation Corporation Resources (CPCR) and the New Domino development to coordinate the event. “This will be a project with 30% affordable housing and over four acres of public space.”
The Sunday preview was the last time the space will be open to the public for up to seven months, said Pollack. The next step involves the City Council and Community Board reviewing and commenting on the plans in the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).
The New Domino plans call for a 2,200 unit development, with a park and waterfront area stretching all the way from Grand Ferry Park to South 15th Street. The plans preserve the refinery building, which has landmark status, but eliminate the smaller historic factory buildings, many of which date from the 1800s, when Domino refined half the sugar consumed in America. The space occupied by those buildings will become “the Refinery Lawn.”
Preservationist groups have fought against the development of the Domino Sugar Factory since its closing in 2004. The Municipal Art Society of New York’s “Save Brooklyn’s Industrial Heritage” group calls the New Domino plans “out of scale” and says they will “overwhelm the historic refinery.”
“There are people who would have liked to see more preserved,” said Pollack. “But we are preserving the Refinery, which is the most iconic building. And we have a huge commitment to preservation. This development feels like an organic part of Williamsburg.”
Hundreds of Williamsburg residents came out to take in the scenery at the Sunday preview. “Every time I come here, my mouth drops,” said the CPCR’s Barbara Baer, who planned the event. “I think people in Williamsburg have been denied the waterfront for a long time. I think the showing today proves that.”
The New Domino’s plans on display during the Sunday preview included a roof terrace built on the refinery, which will incorporate retail space as well as luxury apartment units. The largest playground along the waterfront will double as an ice rink in winter and the drawing of the playground at South 4th St. even includes unidentified “salvaged artifacts.”