Two Trees: Planning process will take “over a year” — “interim uses” sought for part of Domino site

Domino Sugar and “Site E” — the former factory parking lot — in Williamsburg

Two Trees has rung in the New Year by issuing a request for proposals for interim uses for the “Site E” area of Domino. Site E is the large vacant parcel across Kent Avenue from the main refinery buildings, and used to be the parking lot for Domino employees.

If the Community Preservation Corporation had proceeded with its development plan, “Site E” would currently be a construction site for a 13 story building of mostly affordable housing with ground floor retail.

Two Trees’ RFP  is yet another confirmation that the company is seeking to redesign the project from scratch. The interim lease at Site E will run from March 1, 2013 to March 1, 2014, meaning that the new planning process will not conclude until at least mid 2014, with construction unlikely before 2015 — more than a full decade after the sugar refinery shut down.

Domino and “Site E”

Two Trees is looking for an “experienced operator” to run uses and activities that will “attract a wide cross-section of Williamsburg residents” Director of Special Projects Dave Lombino told the Brooklyn Paper that the company favored “art or recreation or a market or food.” The most likely outcome seems to be a temporary market like the Dekalb Market that operated in Downtown Brooklyn during 2011 and 2012 — retailers and food vendors housed in shipping crates on a vacant construction site. Such “pop up” spaces are increasingly popular in urban design circles.

Dekalb Market Plan (UrbanSpace & Young Woo & Associates)

The company UrbanSpace is responsible for not only the Dekalb Market but also the temporary holiday markets in Union Square and Columbus Circle. Safe to say that UrbanSpace is the odds on favorite to run the temporary use at Domino’s “Site E” and the use will likely closely resemble the Dekalb Market, which was also a one-year interim use on a similarly sized parcel. Regardless of what applicant is granted the use, efforts should be made to incorporate local community organizations from both Northside and Southside. If the proposal results in a temporary shipping crate marketplace like the Dekalb Market, there should be some space given over to rotating community group use.

Whether or not local organizations are given a place at the site will be an early indication as to whether Two Trees really wants to help build on the strengths of the existing Williamsburg — or simply remake it in the DUMBO image.

Brian Paul, 1/5/2013


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