Brooklyn Boro

New waterside development to include its own park and beach

March 24, 2021 Raanan Geberer
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A proposal for a new East River waterfront park — with its own beach — has been unveiled by Two Trees Management, the developer of Domino Park.

River Ring would be built to the north of Domino Park and the overall Domino Sugar site, according to the company. It would double the amount of open space at the site and would be developed in tandem with two new residential buildings nearby.

In line with today’s concerns about rising sea levels and flooding, River Ring would create a “soft edge” shoreline, featuring a series of berms and breakwaters for “taking the energy out of a storm surge, reducing flooding and limiting the impact of water that does get through.” River Ring, like many projects nowadays, would also incorporate green technology.

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During Superstorm Sandy, parts of Williamsburg and DUMBO experienced heavy flooding. The storm-resilient “soft edge” system, which can already be found in more than 500 inland properties, is designed by James Corner Field Operations. Among Field Operations’ best-known projects are the High Line on Manhattan’s Lower West Side and the aforementioned Domino Park.

The River Ring beach would give nearby residents another option for a summer’s day. Rendering courtesy of Berlin Rosen

The nearby residential component, consisting of two towers, is slated to have 1,050 new homes, including 263 affordable housing units, designed by Bjarke Ingels Group.

The beach and the park will both be available to everyone, not only residents of the new buildings. “River Ring beach will not officially be a swimming beach. The hope is that as the water quality continues to rise, it will soon become one,” a spokesperson for Two Trees said.

A path along the marsh in River Ring would allow people to get close to nature. Rendering courtesy of Berlin Rosen

The spokesperson explained that “under current conditions, many places along the East River have water quality that is generally “swimmable,” as defined by the Department of Health standards for beaches, except during and within 48 hours of heavy rainfall.” For example, Pier 4 Beach in Brooklyn Bridge Park has met “acceptable” Department of Health swimming standards 89 percent of all testing days.

Finally, the park and development would include a new, custom-designed YMCA for the local community with a youth swimming program.

The River Ring plan has begun the Uniform Land User Review Procedure, and its developers expect it to be completed within seven years. The plan is for the first tower and the waterfront park to be built first, and then the second tower.


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2 Comments

  1. Keith Berger

    The fact that this article mentions nothing of the substantial community opposition to this project is curious.

    Over the past two years, Sustainable Williamsburg, a community group working to encourage the thoughtful and sustainable development of our neighborhood, has examined the progress on (and proposals for) the North Brooklyn Waterfront. As a community, we were surprised a rezoning would even be considered on this site given the massive strain the neighborhood has seen on its infrastructure and services, as well as the corresponding displacement, from the massive development that has happened in the past 12 years from the 2005 rezoning, especially considering there are ~7500 more units in the pipeline already. A pandemic is not a time to approve 2500 more units, especially when the developer has only finished 1/2 of their 2300 units next door.

    Further, the River St proposal is heavily skewed and full of many representations. The developers have built their website to seem as if they are environmentalists building a “waterfront resiliency plan” and a “park” when in-fact the proposal is for 60&65 story towers which would double the value of their site and is from the developer’s point of view necessary to recoup the bet that the developer made in purchasing the land at a value that assumed a rezoning was a sure thing. Their website is not an honest representation of their intentions at a time when the community needs to heal from COVID and rethink priorities for local communities, not be forced into another thoughtless developer-led rezoning.

    Furthermore, a recent survey revealed nearly 80% of residents “with an opinion on this proposal are against rezoning,” and there has been little to no community engagement in the rezoning discussion despite Two Trees’ recent assertion to the Community Board that they have engaged in “intensive community outreach.” Invite-only zoom sessions with select community members is not appropriate community outreach. As a result, 77.4% are unfamiliar with the proposal, meaning that the community has not been engaged by the developer, which is nearly impossible to do during COVID when it’s not possible to have open/in-person meetings. And despite significant resistance at the few public meetings that did occur prior to the pandemic, there are no significant changes to the proposal that address any of the concerns raised.

    You can find more data and information on sustainablewilliamsburg.com. We have also launched riverringtruth.com to fact check the many erroneous or misleading statements in the Two Trees proposal. Some highlights:

    The developer is pushing this rezoning to happen during a pandemic because key decision-makers include is our current city council member, Stephen Levin, whose term ends this year as well as the outgoing Mayor. All eight candidates running for Levin’s seat are against this project.

    As noted in the halted Gowanus rezoning, it is not possible to adequately engage the community when in-person meetings cannot be held, on top of the fact that it is in the best interest of the community to consider our post-COVID world before approving more density. If the proposal stands on its merits, then it will pass at a time that we can appropriately review it. Our community deserves better.

    The proposed above ground park space does not come close to meeting the city recommended standard of 2.5 acres per thousand people. This park will be more than saturated by the residents of these towers.

    The developer is seeking a 35-year 421-a tax abatement worth hundreds of millions in exchange for affordable units. Worryingly, Two Trees has not released a single affordable unit at their neighboring development, One South First, inaccurately blaming the city for delays. The community has little trust that the developer will deliver affordable units at River Street as promised, and luxury high-rises that saturate public infrastructure should not be receiving tax breaks while the city struggles through budget cuts. Studies show that affordable housing when married with luxury development causes further displacement, ultimately making our neighborhood less affordable. Essentially, we’re subsidizing private developers to build more towers, that strain our infrastructure, raise our rents…all built on a small amount of park space that’s overwhelmed by the population that lives on top of it. It’s a bad deal.