The "New Domino" development on the East River in Williamsburg has been stalled for years, but Two Trees management, the real estate company which owns much of gentrified DUMBO, could bring it back from the dead. Two Trees has reached a deal to purchase the site for $185 million from CPC Resources and its partner the Katan Group. But there are complications: the Katan Group doesn't approve the deal and may challenge it in court. And there's already concern that Two Trees will not fulfill the previous developer's promise of 660 units of affordable housing.
The massive Domino Sugar Factory, which was built after the Civil War and was once the largest sugar refinery in the world, was purchased back in 2004 not long after it closed down for good. Ambitious plans for a mixed-use 2,200-unit development were drawn up and shown to a skeptical public, who wondered about the project's impact on the neighborhood. There was a Landmarks Preservation ruling ordering the developer to preserve the iconic sign, but ground was never broken on the project, because CPS ran into financial problems and defaulted on its loans.
Two Trees has not commented on whether it will honor the previous agreement to make 30% of the development affordable housing. The previous developer never made that legally binding, and yesterday a Two Trees spokesman said, "There were promises made by another developer. We literally just bought the property today so I don't know." City Councilmember Steve Levin, who has been critical of the development, tells the Daily News, "They promised a lot. I have a lot of concerns."
And then there's the matter of Katan Group. An attorney for the company tells Crain's his client was "surprised to learn" about the deal with Two Trees and made clear it did not approve. "We have serious reservations about the propriety of the Two Trees deal and the process through which it was struck," the attorney said. "We are evaluating the contract, its terms and ramifications alongside what seem to have been offers with superior terms."
The Times notes that "the sale is yet another signal of the resurgent rental market in Williamsburg; Long Island City, Queens; and Manhattan, where rents have climbed an estimated 10 percent in the last year." And the L train seems to be 20 percent more crowded! If this thing ever gets built, we really hope the Water Taxi has plenty of boats to serve them.