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New Domino, same plan

For New Domino’s developers, density may be destiny.

The $1.2 billion project, consisting of several new towers with 2,200 units constructed on a 11.2 acre site on the Williamsburg waterfront, received a negative recommendation with modifications from Community Board 1’s Land Use Committee because of concerns over its density and scale.

Yet officials for CPC Resources said that while they are committing to permanent affordability for all units, the density of the project would likely remain the same when it appears before the Community Board 1 meeting on March 9.

“The refinery is an expensive undertaking,” said CPC Resources Vice President Susan Pollock. “No other development is preserving buildings along the waterfront. We’ve been in touch with the Land Use Committee but I don’t think we will be able to change the density of the project.”

Committee members voted in a 5-3 margin for a resolution asking CPC Resources to reduce the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of New Domino from its proposed density rate of 5.6 FAR to 4.7 FAR, the level that matches other development along the waterfront, and to 3.7 FAR for its upland parcel on South 3rd and Kent Avenue.

“It would look like a lesser reduction of open space area, less crowding on the subways,” said Land Use Committee Chair Ward Dennis, who abstained from the vote. “It’s a question of density and population, not a question of form and height or anything like that.”

Land Use Committee member Heather Roslund voted against the resolution because she felt the recommendations to reduce density did not go far enough. She asked rhetorically whether it was possible in the city to have an appropriately scaled, mixed-use project that was also financially viable in Brooklyn.

“What’s most frustrating for me about this project is that it gives the community everything we have asked over for the past six years, a mix of affordable housing, adaptive re-use, good design, sustainability, an ample community facility component, small-scale retail, commercial space and well planned open space,” said Roslund. “It’s just twice the size of anything we would want to see.”

In a tour to local reporters on March 1, Pollock and CPC Resources President Michael Lappin defended the size of the project, pointing to the four acres of open space the site will generate, while noting that CPC Resources will address other modifications recommended by the Land Use Committee regarding senior housing, permanent affordability, and transportation.

“Transportation is going to be a problem for the Greenpoint-Williamsburg area for a long time,” said Lappin, explaining that shuttle service to subway and bus stops has been used at other CPCR buildings in the metropolitan New York region.

Pollock remained confident that the neighborhood’s growth will continue through the decade, despite a poor quarter or two in the real estate market, justifying the plan for a higher density than other waterfront sites.

“Sales are picking up and I think new units will get absorbed,” said Pollock. “This is a very long term project, 10 years into the wind, but there is a tremendous demand for living in the city and in Williamsburg.

NAG member Lacey Tauber, who met with CPC Resources officials last week to discuss transportation issues, agreed that demand to live in Williamsburg will remain strong, but cited concerns over the reliance on US Census data from 1999 in determining the dimensions of the New Domino plan.

“They’re working off of 10-year-old data. It’s probably changed a lot since then,” said Tauber. “The whole neighborhood has changed so much. The percentage of people who don’t own cars has probably gone up dramatically.”

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