Temporary recreational haven coming soon for Domino site

March 21, 2013 By Raanan Geberer Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Earlier this month, the Eagle reported on Two Trees’ ambitious plans for a residential-commercial-open space development on the site of the former Domino Sugar refinery in Williamsburg.

Construction is still a ways off, however, especially since the plan has to go through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP). In the meantime, Two Trees is temporarily transforming a vacant lot on Kent Avenue into a recreational haven.

The 55,000-square-foot former parking lot, between South 3rd and South 4th streets on the eastern end of the development, will be transformed by two independent operators into a neighborhood destination with a community farm, a bilingual reading room, green space, family-friendly bike courses and more.

“It should be up and running by Memorial Day,” said Dave Lombino, a spokesman for Two Trees.

The eastern portion of the site will include a variety of different open spaces, including a bilingual reading room, a community farm operated by North Brooklyn Farms, and a community green space which will be used for exercise classes, yoga, speakers and more.

It will be operated by a group led by Williamsburg resident Bobby Redd, who helped transform a vacant church in Bushwick, known as the Bushwick Church, into a community space and event venue.

The cycling area will be run by local bike shop Ride Brooklyn, on Bergen Street in Park Slope, in partnership with the New York City Mountain Bike Association. Pete Kocher, who owns the shop with his wife Jessica, says the site will contain a challenging path for mountain bikes; an area where people can test their bicycling skills and can train; and a flat path for “regular” bicyclists, walkers and strollers. Bike rentals will also be available.

“Two Trees is committed to Williamsburg for the long haul, and we want to be able to give back to the community as we prepare to build at the Domino Sugar site,” said Jed Walentas, principal at Two Trees Management.

Lombino said the site is where the first new building of the development will rise, an event slated for the fall of 2014.

The Two Trees plan for the Domino Sugar site, released earlier this month, will reconnect South Williamsburg to its waterfront; reactivate the historic Domino Sugar factory to house between 3,000 and 4,000 permanent jobs; and create hundreds of units of affordable housing, a public school and a recreational facility as well as market-rate housing.

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