Thursday, March 6, 2008

Which Sign? WIP on WOR

Domino signs capture the public imagination, or at least the imagination of WOR710 am's Donna Hanover and Joe Bartlett. The historic sign is located on the Bin Structure and the (carefully designed and reseached though looking quite rogue) "Save Domino" sign can be seen from the north side of the Williamsburg Bridge. The signs' significance was the topic on the Morning Show today at 8 o'clock.

Local Architect Steve Frankel called in to comment and introduce Williamsburg Independent People (WIP). WIP is a community based organization whose purpose is to help develop the site of the former Domino Sugar Mill. Frankel pointed out that community concern about proposed development is not primarily about the historic sign - it's about density, affordability and sanity.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Janyce Stefan-Cole's statement to Brooklyn's CB1

I’d like to make a statement regarding continuity and the CPC plans for the eleven acre Domino site. I refer particularly to the former Domino parking lot on the east side of Kent Avenue, between South 3rd / South 4th Streets where CPC proposes at least two 140’ buildings at the top of the lot, just below Wythe Avenue. I present to the board a publicity-use rendering of the CPC Domino proposal as might be seen from the FDR or a yacht.

CPC does not show the backside of their plans, where people of the neighborhood already live and work. From the backside would be seen the monster units proposed upland of Kent Avenue. These monsters are not continuous with current upland use or zoning. They are not continuous with the vision of Mayor Bloomberg, former Deputy Mayor Doctoroff or Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden. They are not in keeping with zoning changes or with any other building projects in the works or already extant upland of Kent Avenue spanning from the north tip of Williamsburg down to Division Street, where heights have been kept low to preserve the overall character of the neighborhood. High-rise buildings on the waterfront are a compromise; building above four stories upland of Kent Avenue would be abusive to the vision, planning and continuity of the neighborhood.

Why does CPC want high-rises upland? They purchased an antique. The eleven acre Domino site includes buildings dating from the Civil War. All along the Brooklyn waterfront such antiques have been torn down, with exceptions, as on the Dumbo waterfront. Federal and now City Historic Preservationists have ruled the main Domino building must be preserved. This will be costly to CPC, who in turn asks to be, in effect, reimbursed, by requesting special zoning from city planning to build high-rises upland of Kent Avenue. That reimbursement, or claim of hardship, places a punishing burden on the people already living and working in the neighborhood.

What is CPC’s hardship? They say they cannot build their proposed low income—or “affordable” units if they are forced to save the Domino main building without going high-rise upland. Why not? They plan 110 units for those with incomes in the $34,000 - $35, 000 range. And 330 units for incomes in the $41,000 range. These units will be built first, upland on the former parking lot site—a form of segregation, by the way. 120 units are intended for the $90,000 income range, with 100 units set aside for low income seniors. That leaves over 1,700 units of the total 2,400 proposed for market value. The remaining 1,740 apartments are clearly meant for millionaires, who will no doubt enjoy the waterfront from their new bedroom community. (This is not even mentioning the retail spaces proposed.)

My point is profit is there aplenty for CPC without destroying the continuity of the existing neighborhood. We should be neither penalized nor jeopardized by CPC’s purchase of an antique. CPC can save Domino and preserve the neighborhood, and make a profit, and should be granted no special zoning, particularly with regard to high-rise development upland of Kent Avenue where heights should be no more than four stories.

No one owns Brooklyn: I don’t, CPC doesn’t. Let’s work this out.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Bin Structure as a Landmark?

Now that the Refinery Building has been designated a Landmark by the Landmarks Commission, some people are wondering why the Bin Structure was not included in the lobby since it is a favorite of many architects. The Bin Structure is the concrete tower that is just south of the Refinery Building with blue glass on its sides at the top. It adds modern elements to Domino.

A member of the lobby to landmark Domino did not think it would be realistic to re-use the Bin Structure since it apparently doesn't have any floors inside, nor windows beneath the blue glass on top. They considered a rock-climbing wall might be an appropriate re-use. When it was suggested that floors and windows could be added, e.g. punched-in openings (like the Maritime Hotel), the member responded that such a renovation would threaten the building's design integrity.

An unintended result of preserving integrity, in this case, is the risk of loosing a City's inspiration.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Waterfront Preservation Alliance on the Landmarking

Landmark Status Is Approved for Domino Refinery in Brooklyn - NY Times

Domino Sugar Factory Landmarked - NY1

The Domino Three as Landmarks

It's official. The three buildings in the north-south center block of the Domino site were landmarked at the September 25th hearing of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The buildings incluce: the Filter House, Pan House and Mill House (aka the Finishing House). All of these buildings were completed in 1884. Most of the people at the hearing were there to support Domino as a landmark. The sign was not landmarked.