Williamsburg

Williamsburg construction update: The Domino Sugar Refinery site

Eye on Real Estate

February 21, 2018 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Here's the Williamsburg waterfront with the Domino Sugar site tucked behind the Williamsburg Bridge and the glass-clad 420 Kent Ave. development to the bridge's right. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan

Oh oh Domino.

Roll me over, Romeo.

Throughout this winter’s wild weather swings, construction crews have been toiling diligently at the Domino Sugar Refinery site in Williamsburg.

Work is moving forward on multiple fronts at the 11-acre waterfront mega-project, which belongs to Two Trees Management, the Walentas family’s company.

We rode the NYC Ferry the other day so we could snap fresh photos of the mammoth mixed-use site.

The East River affords good views of the landmarked 1880s refinery building at 292-314 Kent Ave., whose full name is the Havemeyers & Elder Filter, Pan & Finishing House, and of the new construction surrounding it.

In November, as we previously reported, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a dramatic design by architecture firm PAU for the refinery’s makeover into a 21st-century office building.  

The East River’s also a good place to glimpse the zinc and copper facade of 325 Kent Ave., Two Trees Management’s first newly constructed rental-apartment building at the Domino site.

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If you decide to take your own look at the Domino development, ride the ferry to the North Williamsburg boat landing. Steps away from the dock, there’s an art lovers’ photo op — a sculpture by Deborah Kass that says “YO” if you face inland and “OY” if you face the shoreline.

From there, you head down Kent Avenue to the corner of Grand Street, which is the northern edge of the Domino site.

The wood-panel construction fence surrounding the property is picturesque — because it’s covered by a 200-foot-wide mural that Two Trees Management commissioned in 2014. It was painted by Los Muralistas de El Puente, a public art collective from Southside Williamsburg, which is called Los Sures in Spanish.

* * *

Domino Park will open soon

Through a gate in the construction fence, you can see backhoes rumbling along a dirt pathway. We’re pretty sure the pathway is an extension of River Street, which Two Trees Management is building on the Domino site.   

River Street currently ends at Grand Street.

At the edge of the construction fence, you will find Grand Ferry Park, a tiny waterfront public space. It’s a good place to stand when you photograph two 80-foot-tall cranes that are situated at the water’s edge on the Domino site.

The cranes are leftover machinery from Domino’s sugar plant, which was closed in 2004.  

The cranes will be on display in Domino Park, a six-acre recreational space Two Trees Management is creating on its development site.

At a Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing last fall, Two Trees Management CEO Jed Walentas said Domino Park will open in May.

James Corner Field Operations is the park’s designer. The firm designed the wildly popular High Line in the Meatpacking District and Chelsea.

More about Domino Park. One of its distinctive features will be the Artifact Walk, where the cranes will be displayed.

Other sugar-production artifacts that will be incorporated into Domino Park include 36-foot-tall tanks that were used to store syrup.

If you stroll down Kent Avenue to South 5th Street, which is the south end of the Domino site, and look through the construction fence, you can see the syrup tanks.

By the way, after our Williamsburg walk we were in the office reading city Finance Department records. We found a zoning lot description of the Domino site.

It says the western boundary of the Domino site is a 1,297.5-foot-long pierhead on the East River.

That’s a quarter-mile of shoreline.

In May, Two Trees Management will open that shoreline expanse to the public.   

* * * 

Apartments and offices at 260 Kent Ave.

There’s something else to see inside Domino’s construction fence.

On Kent Avenue near the corner of Grand Street, through windows that are cut into the fence, you can  glimpse construction workers inside a deep rectangular pit, laying the foundation and erecting basement walls at 260 Kent Ave.

Multiple published reports describe 260 Kent Ave. as a two-building complex designed by COOKFOX Architects.

There will be 330 rental apartments in a 42-story building. Twenty percent of the apartments, namely 66 of them, will be affordable units for low-income households.

There will also be a 22-story building with 150,000 square feet of office space. There will be 13,000 square feet of retail space in the bottom floors of the complex.

A Curbed.com story says the connected pre-cast concrete buildings will be “shaped like two Ls stacked together.”   

In January, The Real Deal reported that Two Trees Management is seeking a $175 million construction loan for 260 Kent Ave. from the New York State Housing Finance Agency.

P.S. Before you leave the neighborhood, go back to Grand Ferry Park. It’s a good place to photograph the late-afternoon sun as it drops behind the Williamsburg Bridge. 

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