The old Domino Sugar Refinery, which began operations on the East River in Williamsburg back in 1884, was once the largest refinery in the world. It shut down in 2004, and since then there's been rancorous debate over what's to become of the iconic 11 acre property. In the beginning of March, Two Trees Management, the real estate company that largely transformed DUMBO in the '80s and '90s, unveiled its bold vision for a mixed-use development project that stalled two years ago. Some locals who opposed the previous developer's plan have been persuaded by the new designs. Others, as you can see from the photo above, are not.
According to a Williamsburg tipster (thipster?), this protest sign was projected onto a Brooklyn-facing wall of the refinery last night. Our source speculates that the projection was aimed by the same group that has been calling for the Domino site to be turned into an ambitious new art center along the lines of the hugely-successful Tate Modern in London. They argue that turning Domino into a world-renowned art destination would bring more revenue into the city through tourism than anything the Two Trees plan would generate.
It's a sweet pipe dream, but it seems unlikely at this point. The Two Trees plan was designed by SHoP architects, and is currently under review by the city's land use review process. It would feature 2,284 residential units, almost 80,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, and over 630,000 square feet of office space. In the meantime, there will be yoga, urban farming, and bike courses.
Asked about last night's protest, a spokesman for the developer tells us, "Our vision for Domino has broad community support because it delivers affordable housing, brings thousands of jobs to the long dormant, preserved factory building, and adds acres of desperately needed open space, and because we have the ability and desire to deliver these benefits as soon as possible."