The City Planning Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved the proposed redevelopment at the former Domino Sugar factory site in Brooklyn, which will now feature an increased number of affordable housing units. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
Demolition of the old Domino Sugar plant is underway, but approval to build at the waterfront site still needs to clear one final hurdle: the City Council.
On Wednesday, the Two Trees development project came one step closer to getting a shovel in the ground when the City Planning Commission unanimously approved the plan, calling it sweet.
The approval came after harsh negotiations.
"It came down to the wire. We were negotiating over the weekend," said David Lombino of Two Trees Management Co. "Mayor de Blasio and the City Planning Commission sought to require us to do more affordable housing than we were initially comfortable with."
The city pushed for more and got it. Two Trees Management added 110,000 square feet of affordable housing, which increases the number of affordable apartments to more than 700 within the complex. All will be permanently affordable and include larger three-bedroom units.
"Affordable housing is, of course, is the stated goal of the mayor, who is committed to achieving 200,000 affordable apartments over the next 10 years," said Carl Weisbrod, chairman of the City Planning Commission.
"I would like to commend the administration and Two Trees for being able to negotiate an agreement that I hope will serve as a model for future negotiations," said Maria del Toro of the City Planning Commission.
Two Trees bought the defunct sugar plant in 2012 from another developer. The Two Trees proposal not only includes housing on the 4.8-acre site, but also office, retail, parks and a school. The more than $1 billion project would take about 15 years to complete.
Union labor wants to be included in all phases of construction. Workers rallied outside the City Planning Commission hearing Wednesday.
"Two Trees has had a history of not always working with all the unions," said John Skinner, president of Ironworkers Local 46. "All we're looking for is a fair shot."
Two Trees says it has a good construction track record. Now, it's preparing for the City Council pubic hearing and vote that will take place in the next two months. If the City Council approves the project, the developer hopes to break ground in December.